Newsletter No. 227, January 2021 ~ Grupo Ecológico
Hola Volunteers and Supporters ~
It finally happened; our marine turtle conservation project now has its own Facebook page! Please click on this link to Like, Follow and Share our San Pancho Marine Turtle Project page with your friends. This is San Pancho’s only official marine turtle Facebook page representing Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
As expected, in January the number of nests we found dropped off sharply. But what a great season we had! From May through January we saved a total of 1,087 turtle nests. An estimated 97,500 hatchlings were born on our beach this season. This was our third-largest season in history, despite the pandemic and fewer volunteers. By May 2021, we estimate we will reach at least 100,000 turtle hatchlings for the entire season. Also there is one Leatherback turtle nest that is scheduled to hatch with the next 60 days!
After two months of repairs on the dune buggy is finally back on the beach! She runs like a dream. We completely replaced the front wheel rims, brake drums, brake shoes and assembly, wheel and master cylinders, and all tie rods.
Weather-wise, daytime temperatures this month were in the high-60’s° to mid-70’s° F, while nighttime temperatures were in the high 50’s° to very low 60’s° F. We received no rain in January.
Thanks to our January Volunteers: Manuel Murrieta, Karen Sorum, Hallie Loveridge, Juan Flores and family, Taylor Kimbell, Katie Grant and Esteban Millard.
Our recent Donors include: Jack and Franny Bischof, Richard Spotts, Angie Dean, Caren Elkan, William Kirkwood, Brian Culligan, Jennifer Nelsen, Karen Hope, Gale Greer, Kathrin Gansera, Alexander Astrakhan, Suzanne Mullins and Josh Breinlinger. We are very thankful to receive your contributions! Without your help we would not be able to do our work.
As a reminder, we receive donations only through our website's Paypal link https://www.project-tortuga.org/contribute.html, or by dropping off donations in person to Frank Smith.
Because of the pandemic, over summer 2020 I felt that it was unsafe for volunteers to work together at our compound loading nests into boxes, as we had done for years. To keep our volunteers and community safe, our best option was to allow the nests to incubate on the beach as nature intended. This presented the problem of how to protect the nests from poachers and dogs. The solution was simple; have individual volunteers move the nests away from the mothers’ tracks and the original nesting site.
Our relocation efforts also gave us an opportunity to place the nests away from lights that seriously distracted hatchlings, and to locate them higher on the beach away from high waves. We were also able to improve on nature by placing the nests further apart, deeper than normal, and pack the sand above the nests tightly. These modifications beyond nature’s work gave the hatchlings a far better chance of surviving on the beach.
There remained two problems with leaving nests on the beach; birds and heat. Most hatchlings reach the surface at night when it is safer from predators. But if they reach the surface during the day when the sand is 137°F, and if there are birds above, it can lead to certain death. This is where evolution takes over because daytime hatchlings’ mistake will more likely lead to their death, and they will not produce offspring that could make the same mistake again.
We issued Covid-era guidelines for people who might find hatchlings that made the deadly mistake of coming up during the heat of the day, or who see birds attacking them. Our advice is to gather up daytime hatchlings in a towel or a shirt, find the nest site if possible, and remove any other hatchlings from under the sand. Then take them down to the edge of surf and drop off one every 50 feet apart while on the lookout for birds. Taking them to the surf reduces the danger of hot sand, and a 50-foot distance between each hatchling reduces the chance that birds will see them.
This process is better than collecting hatchlings during the day and holding them for release until nighttime. Many years ago we discovered that hatchlings struggling for hours in a basket seriously deplete their energy, which reduces their chances of survival at sea. Hatchlings burn up to five times more energy struggling in a basket than swimming at sea during the same time.
In other news, Lisa Fisher and Steve Raschke continue helping us with our Internet and email tools. We now use Weebly.com to design and maintain our website. Hover.com holds our domain names and acts as our Internet Service Provider. Gmail and Hover.com handle our regular emails. SendFox.com organizes our address book and securely delivers our newsletters. And of course Facebook hosts our new San Pancho Marine Turtle Project page.
We created a custom QR Code with our logo, and posted it at our front gate to reduce face-to-face interaction and help visitors understand our policies during the Covid pandemic. You can scan the code with your cell phone.
Frank Smith, Director
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
Facebook page: San Pancho Marine Turtle Project
Tel. 311 258 4100