Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Friends ~
By the end of August we recorded 274 nests, the first 64 of which were placed in our beach nursery, which to date has not been flooded by waves, although heavy rain has been a problem. The remaining 210 were placed in the box nursery, and should begin hatching on September 20th. The 274 nests represent only 50% of what we had collected by the end of August last year. Twelve nests were left on the beach, while another fifteen nests or 6% were taken by poachers.
The title, Riviera Nayarit, may incite an image of palm laden beaches in a tropical paradise. Unfortunately, if you walk these beaches today they may incite something very different. The beaches are covered with tons of floating debris, logs, plastic, etc, while the sea itself is discolored with mud. The villain in this case is the River Ameca, a river that runs through thousands of miles of mountainous canyons, and reaches as far up as Guadalajara. If you have doubts, just check out the small chunks of volcanic pumice which were washed down from far up the Ameca drainage. The answer to this problem is simple; enforce sound environmental rules and regulations that would help agriculture and developers plan projects that would insure a decline of out of control erosion. If the development of the Riviera Nayarit is to remain the State’s prime income, it needs to be protected. (See image below)
One other note about the Ameca River, around 2 o’clock on the morning of August 31 the older of the two bridges spanning the Ameca River collapsed, while the newest span is closed for inspection for possible damage. As of today, the route between Nayarit and Jalisco or San Pancho and Vallarta is totally cut off. The only way to get out or into Vallarta via car is over the mountains through Mascots or by water taxi from Nuevo Vallarta to Vallarta--marina to marina. (See Image below)
While collecting nests on the night of August 29th we were pleased to find that all homes along the entire beach, including the homes on the hills behind and Hotel Costa Azul, were totally dark, except for one. For over six years the owner, manger and caretaker of this house have been repeatedly asked to reduce the amount of light shining on the beach. (Reducing light shining the beach can easily be done by shielding the light from the beach, and/or reducing the wattage, and/or changing the light to a yellow-reddish color that turtles can’t see and/or reducing the number of lights.) But instead of helping, the caretaker that answers to no one turned on every possible light. Since it is a Federal crime to cast unnecessary light on a marine turtle nesting beach, we have no other choice after six years but to seek the help of the Federal Authorities.
On the night of August 24th, Andres and I approached a poacher in total darkness, our advance was so quick that the poacher had no choice but to duck into a large group of nasty thorn bushes. When he materialized on the other side, the bag of eggs he had been carrying was ripped leaving a trail of broken eggs behind him. Instead of giving up, he chose to run, but the buggy cut off his advance until he jumped a wall into a private residence. His escape did little good, though, as we knew the individual, and within two days we had him before a judge. He was found guilty, promised never to poach again, and received a punishment of forty hours of community service over a two week period.
Weather-wise; throughout the month of August we received about 15 inches of rain. On the morning of August 9th we received to date the heaviest rains of the season, about 2.5 inches, and shortly after the storm we were on the beach collecting nests when we noticed six men frantically digging a ditch from the lagoon out to the sea. The men were trying to save their homes from being flooded by the rapidly rising water. By four o’clock the lagoon was opened to the sea, coincidentally during one of the lowest tides of the year, minus 8 inches. The drop of over twenty feet quickly and completely drained the lagoon, and 85% of its floating vegetation. In mid-August the river finally began flowing; late, when taking into consideration that this river had flowed the whole year round just over twenty-five years ago.
For the last several months, July through mid-September, we’ve carried an average three working volunteers not counting myself, only one third of which we had hope for. In fact since August 24th of 2009, and perhaps due to the faltering economy, we’ve been seriously short of volunteers. Never-the-less we have been able to get the job done despite any and all problems. In mid-September we expect to receive nine volunteers, with four arriving a little later.
This is scary, real scary; we must rent our three apartments this winter or the Group will lose money. Two years ago we were able to rent these apartments with difficulty, although today we may lose money due to, of course, the poor economy and lack of tourists. If you would like to help us out of a tight spot, please contact Karen Elkan at (530) 852-0751 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C
Mexico tel. (311) 258-4100
San Francisco, Nayarit, Mexico
Ameca bridge collapsed on August 31st Debris up our beaches from the Ameca River, August 9th.