Newsletter No. 230, April 2021 ~ Grupo Ecológico
Hola Volunteers and Supporters ~
Over the past 30 years, Grupo Ecológico has carefully protected thousands of marine turtle nests, increasing the Olive Ridley nest count from a minimum of 170 in 1992 to a maximum of over 1,450. Unfortunately, today we still have one problem, poaching, although we are extremely fortunate to have many friends and supporters in our community that are willing to help us with this problem.
We want to thank the few beach residents that have changed the lights to amber or yellow colors. Remember, amber, yellow, and light red lights can be purchased at the Home Depot.
We began our nightly patrolling of the beach on May 15th, although after completing two passes over the entire beach that night we found no evidence of tracks from the previous weeks. The first two nests were found on the night of the 28th, and since May first is the first day of the 2021 season, we have recorded four nests.
For the second year in a row, we will not be able to utilize the box nursery, the reason, of course, is the ongoing pandemic. All nests found on the beach will be relocated to safer areas, placed deeper than normal so parasites cannot reach the eggs, totally disguised and unmarked. Due to the colder than normal winter, between November and May, the cold sand has created 100% males hatchlings which has become a serious Problem for the females during mating. Many females are drowned because they cannot reach the surface under the weight of several males.
Short notes: people ask why we are using plastic nest bags, they are not plastic, they are “Bolsa 100% Biodegradable”, and can be purchased in Bucerias. The buggy is in excellent shape. We will receive Grupo Ecológico’s new constitution in the coming weeks.
Due to the pandemic and the concern for the safety of the community, we will not be releasing hatchlings until the pandemic has come to an end. The problem, we cannot safety control the occasional large number of enthusiastic onlookers.
Over the past seven months, we have received less than two inches of rain which has created a serious problem for both the female marine turtle and the dune buggy. As for the turtle, her problem is not being able to carve out a deep nest hole in bone dry sand that can be over a foot deep. As for the buggy, its front wheels cannot gain any traction in deep dry sand. When you try to turn the front wheels, they just slide straight forward.
Weatherwise, daytime temperatures have been in the mid 80°, while nighttime temperatures have been in the high 60° to low 70°. So far this year we have received no rain or seen any thunderclouds yet. Although we did receive our first hurricane, Andres, about 1,200 miles offshore heading to the west.
A word of warning to all poachers and unlicensed individuals, we have received a special decree from the Mexican Government that give our local police the authority to arrest anyone found with marine turtle eggs, digging up a nest or handling hatchlings, a serious violation of federal law. Only licensed volunteers, certified by the Mexican Government and Grupo Ecológico can legally work with the marine turtles.
We would like to thank our May volunteers: Karen Sorum, Hallie Loveridge, Gale Greer, Lorren Garliche, Bob and Sandra Klusmeyer, Ophélie Chappuis, Juan Flores, and family. In June, the following volunteers will join us: Kenza Pierruse, Julia Gosselin, Steve, Isabelle, and Linnea Nelson, Claudia Pancoast and Ophélie Chappuis.
We are extremely grateful to the March donors: Sally Williams, Karen Hope, Jennifer Nelsen, Rachel Kelts, Ceren Elkan. Ana Cosio, and Gale Greer. To donate to Grupo Eco, please go to Grupo Ecológico's PayPal portal.
Since all sewage is being pumped up to the new treatment plant, the water level of the lagoon has dropped well below normal for this time of year. At this time, the entire surface of the lagoon is covered with Water Hyacinth. Members of the San Pancho Bird Observatory cleared a small area of Hyacinths to give the birds an area to enjoy water. While clearing the plants they found 15 hatchlings that had been drawn into the lagoon by restaurant lights.
Construction north of the golf course is at an all-time high with over 40 construction vehicles passing by the nursery each day. I have also noticed some changes, the number of people and dogs on the beach at night is well below normal, while it appears that the number of buses on highway 200 has dropped to a near all-time low.
Frank Smith, Director
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
Facebook page: San Pancho Marine Turtle Project
Tel. 311 258 4100