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left arrowPrevious ................................ ......Newsletter No. 121 November, 2011


Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Friends ~

The box nursery is an 8’ x 36’ building covered in black plastic, much like a greenhouse but where the interior temperature can easily reach 100 degrees.  The boxes are nothing more than 18 to 24 liter styrofoam chests with small holes in the bottom to drain water from the eggs as they hatch.  The eggs are placed in the center of the boxes and surrounded by clean, moist sand. The boxes are then placed in the nursery on the top shelf of four vertical shelves.  Approximately every nine days, each box is moved down one shelf until it rests on the floor at which time they are hatching.  If everything goes well, 87% should hatch within 45 days.  Unlike the beach nursery, the design is perfect and is not affected by adverse weather conditions providing it doesn’t cloud up for several months.  This design produces a hatchling that is healthier and parasite-free.   
942 nests were recorded by the end of November of which 661 were incubated within the box nursery with a survival rate of 86.9% while the beach and beach nursery produced a miserable 29.2% survival rate from 218 nests.   37 nests (3.7% of the total) were taken illegally.  By the end of the season, we will have released about 62,000 hatchlings.  The remaining 110 nests within the box nursery and 26 nests in the beach nursery should hatch over the next 55 days.
You would think with a survival rate of 29.2% we would be reluctant to place any additional nests in the beach.  However, we have no choice. Each season, around November 15th, the temperature within the box nursery drops below a point where nests can be safely incubated.   However, on the bright side, unlike the rain soaked sand and storm-whipped waves of the summer, the mild weather and warm sands of mid-October through mid-December, hopefully, should produce a better survival rate than 29.2%.
This November marks two personal milestones. It was on a vacation in November, 1991, that I first arrived in San Pancho.  It was then that I became interested in the marine turtles and have made San Pancho my home ever since.  Also, on November 28th, I celebrated my 75th birthday.  I would like to manage the marine turtle program forever but if we fail to find enough volunteers this season, it may be my last.

For some unknown reason, over the past three years we’ve been extremely short of help between mid-August and the end of September which is the peak of the nesting season.  For the few volunteers, including myself, this shortage is far too exhausting to endure.  On the bright side, after emailing an appeal for help to over 300 prospective volunteers I received positive results.  See the chart on our webpage http://www.project-tortuga.org/selected.html 

November’s volunteers are: Joslin, Summer, and Starlie Bertrand, Thomas Marhold, Dana Farham, Jessica Wallace,  Kate Killpack and Stephany Gale.  I would like to thank everyone that volunteered this, and all seasons, for their dedication to the program, the protection of the marine turtle.
Weather-wise, except for a couple of cold nights in the low 60°s, most of November was pleasant.   Daytime temps were in the mid 80°s to low 90°s while nighttime temperatures dropped into the 60°s.  By checking last year's nursery temperature records, I think this winter is a little warmer than last year. Although, the last few nights in November were very cold.  No rain, tsunami, earthquakes and little wind and clouds.  The river is still pushing its way through the lagoon to the sea.  Beach sand is moving south cutting steep banks at the north end.
Town-wise, the construction of the local Pemex station has come to a near standstill while the Sayulita station is within months of being finished.  Better late than never: They are building, or are in the planning stage of building, a new sewer plant on far side of hwy 200. More on this later.  The tourists are back but, again, not as they had been five years ago.  The pesos is 13.0 to 13.4 per dollar, while regular gasoline is around $2.76 a gallon.
Overall the dune buggy has preformed well throughout this season. It did get stuck a couple of times on the beach and suffered a dozen minor problems of which only one required a tow into Puerto Vallarta.  This season, maintenance costs were less than $900 USD, a far cry from the cost of previous years.
The yellow pages in the 2012 Homeowners Directory shrunk by fourteen vendors while the white pages increased by fifteen listings.  Although we added six new listings to the sponsors' pages, they remained the same as another six listings moved out of town.  The first 60 copies sold out in less than a week.  Unfortunately, Yellow Pages of Vallarta will not be releasing new telephone numbers until March 2012.   If I have not been able to make connect with you and you would like a copy, call me for a special delivery or drop by my house.  Please remember, the Directory is our sole means of raising funds to continue our work.  You are not only buying a very useful directory, you are also making an important donation.
Apartments – To hold on to our three apartments we must keep them rented throughout the entire year.  Renting during the six winter months almost offsets the cost of housing volunteers during the summer months.  The apartments have two bedrooms and are fully furnished, with sheets, blankets, towels, all utilities paid and free high-speed, wireless internet.  They are located in a quiet neighborhood next to a beautiful golf course and park.  They are available from March through mid-June and rent for $650, $700 and $750 (US dollars per month).  If interested, contact Caren Elkan or Allison at 311-258-4320 or Frank Smith at 311-258-4100.

Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
Tel. 311-258-4100


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