Newsletter No. 252, February 2023 ~ Grupo Ecológico
Hola Volunteers and Supporters ~
Looking back over Grupo Ecológico’s thirty-one years of protecting marine turtles, our volunteers, donors and leaders can take pride in the group’s many accomplishments. Educating San Pancho families about the marine environment, and sharing experiences with so many amazing volunteers from all over the world are among the most memorable things we have achieved.
But when you look at the numbers, at the top of our accomplishments is growth in the turtle population. This is a direct result of our conservation efforts. Centuries ago, thousands of turtles nested on these beaches. But when Grupo Ecológico began back in 1993 we found only 370 adult marine turtles, due to decades of poaching eggs and killing adults for their meat. Our project was key to making changes in the culture and slowly rebuilding the local marine turtle population. As of 2022 the population has increased to approximately 1,022 adult marine turtles!
Second on our list of accomplishments is the total number of hatchlings released. Over the past thirty-one years, through protecting and incubating nests, we’ve released a total of about 1,587,429 hatchlings into the ocean. That’s a huge number, much more than many other marine turtle programs thanks to our volunteers and many years in operation.
All turtle conservation programs struggle to protect and preserve the nests, and we saw how hard that can be when Tropical Storm Roslyn covered our beach last year with tons of driftwood, and wiped out many beach nurseries all along Mexico’s northern Pacific coast. Over the past two months many more beach nurseries and natural marine turtle nests along the Pacific Coast north of San Pancho were destroyed by high waves coming from powerful storms out of the north.
Third among our accomplishments, we’ve tracked and protected around 19,931 turtle nests along San Pancho area beaches over the past thirty-one years. Because of our work, the number of nests taken by poachers (we can only estimate this from observations and other data) has dropped from as much as 50% thirty years ago to less than 3% today.
To give you an idea of how the challenges and culture have changed since we began, here are excerpts from our Newsletter #1, dated September 1999.
- “On a sad note, the poachers have broken into the nursery three times causing some damage, ripping off the plastic roof, carrying off 70 eggs from a nest that was over two weeks old, tasty, I'm sure. They were looking for fresh eggs in the dark, so you can imagine the damage.”
- “The first sign of any problems started August 3rd when a poacher tried to steal a nest out from under the nose of a volunteer who was alone at the time and standing on the nest to protect it. When I arrived in the buggy the poacher ran off and began to toss rocks at us as we were collecting the eggs.”
- “Further down the beach we collected two more nests. While the poachers also robbed three others, but that was not enough for them. Before we could return to the nursery with our nests they had climbed over the gate, and ransacked the nursery again.”
December volunteers: Jessica Hiller. Steve Raschke, Elvia Garcia, Taylor Kimbell, Rick Burke and Susan Stephens, Karen Sorum and Hallie Loveridge. We are looking for at least 11 more good volunteers to join us this coming 2023 nesting season. If interested go to our Volunteer Page, and please also spread the word about our volunteering opportunity. This summer we are enlisting Cheryl Jones and family; she was one our first volunteers 24 years ago.
Weather-wise: February temperatures during the day were in the mid to high 70’s°, while nighttime temps were in the low to mid 60’s°. By the end of February, we’ve received .02 inches of rain. Overall, the weather has been very pleasant.
We are very grateful to have received several good donations from: Susan Stephens, Jennifer Nelsen, Karen Hope, and Mary Jane Schumacher. Without your donations our work would be nearly impossible.
Our financial reserves are far below normal due to the increase in our cost of leasing our apartments, plus the purchase of the Can-Am and the past effects of the pandemic. Please help if you can by contributing at our PayPal site.
Frank Smith, Director
Elvia Garcia, Secretary
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
Our email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our website is: http://www.project-tortuga.org
For new Volunteers https://www.project-tortuga.org/handbook.html