Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Readers ~
Although interesting and entertaining the “San Pancho Turtle” “Face book page”, was not designed to represent the official views, polices and procedures of Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C. All official communication concerning the Group should be sent to Grupo Ecológico
By the end of September we had recorded over 869 nests, and had placed 578 in the box nursery, which has to date produced over 20,025 hatchlings at a survivable rate of 83%. The beach nursery received 232 nests, and 17 nests were left on the beach, while the poachers ran off with 42 nests or .049%. Like magic, on September 7th, just as we had placed the first nest in the beach nursery, heavy rains arrived. Between the 7th, and the 30th the beach nursery received over 30 inches of rain, which may have destroyed all 232 nests within.
August volunteers, Joslin, and Summer Bertrand, Jessica Schmidt and Mark Hiller, all from the US - Amalia Sedlmayer, Germany - Zsofia Cserhati, Hungary - Robert Turner Anderson, Turkey - Claudia Gambacciani, Switzerland - Norma Patricia Rodriquez, Ernesta Canare and Manuel Murrieta all from San Pancho – and Lisa Fisher, Canada.
As a requirement to begin our work in 1992, the Mexican Government issued us a set of commonsense instructions and rules. In February we received the latest set of rules which are wide-ranging and comprehensive. This ten page document contains instruction and regulations that speak of, but are not limited to, the “Protection of native habitat”, “Off-road vehicles”, “Artificial lighting”, and “Spectators.” The Mexican Government has identified the Spectator as one of the most serious problems facing the protection of the hatchlings today. The problem began when businesses catering to the tourist trade and some nurseries used the hatchlings as a way of drawing customers and/or donations, while the tourist was only an innocent spectator in this equation.
In our enthusiastic rush to entertain and educate the public we failed to notice that over time we had bent the rules by placing our hatchlings at risk. We have taken steps to correct this problem, basically this means that only our trained staff will handle hatchlings, eggs and adult turtles. Although tourist and town folk are more than welcome to join us, observe our work and help. We need help in moving nest boxes, gathering sand and taking used sand back to the beach, and others can join us on the buggy if there is an open seat.
A little history on the origin and beginning of the mid-November through mid-March “public release,” about twenty-two years ago we encountered a problem trying to release hatchlings at the correct time, an hour after sundown in total darkness. The trouble began with a prolonged incubation period during the coldest months of the season which in turn weakens the hatchlings. As reptiles, when released on the cold sand they quickly became chilled, and were unable to move, while some hatchlings that made it to the seas were washed back later. The problem was solved when we released small amounts at sundown when the sand and air temperature were much warmer. In the beginning this release was never designed for public viewing, but instead was designed to help the weakened hatchlings avoid the cold beach. Hatchlings released between mid-November through mid-March are 95% male and represent less than 4% of the total hatchlings released in any season.
A little history on the “an hour after sundown”, since hatchlings spend the first dangerous night swimming on the surface in total darkness, fish are unable to see their silhouette, hence no dinner. Never-the-less hatchlings released at sundown stand a far greater chance of being eaten by fish, than those released in total darkness!!
The “sundown public release” will continue as scheduled during the coldest nights between mid-November through mid-March. Although if there is no “sundown public release” at the time, tourists and town folk may find us on the beach releasing hatchlings between 9 and 10 PM., just look for the buggy, or call 01-311-258-4100 for information. Remember do not use flashlights, do not pick up the hatchlings and do not make holes in the sand in front of them
.Weather-wise, Day time temperatures were in the mid to high 80°s, night time in the low to mid 70°s. Tropical storm Manual dropped over 3.9 inches of rain, while on the 23rd we received 11 inches of heavy rain at my house, (see photo below). This storm caused many mud slides on highway 200 and on the jungle road to the north. The runoff from the lagoon had snaked its way northward to in front of Restaurant La Pearle cutting a steep ten foot bank that almost threatened the restaurants above, (see photo below). The beach is a mess of floating debris and plastic, mostly from the Areca and Sayulita rivers. The surface of the beach looks like a battle scene from some old black-an-white World War I movie. Unlike the slow beginning of the monsoon season, the end can come quite suddenly in the last week of September, as the humidity dropped, the skies are clear, temps dropped and lightning is all but gone.
Town and country wise, despite the first four days of heavy rain, the town celebration is a great event. As a condition to open the gas station the highway in front town must be redesigned and reconstructed to insure safe and smooth movement of traffic into and out of the station, some work has begun, but its very slow. The new sewer plant is being held up pending the filing and approval of an environmental impact survey. When the plant is operational it will supply irrigation water for lawns within the golf course, polo and soccer fields. The dollar is 12.8 pesos per dollar, gasoline is $3.57 per gallon.
Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
My back yard after the September 23rd rain storm. La Perla almost gone.,