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Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Friends -

We are now three weeks away from the peak of this nesting season, and the number of nests recorded is well below normal, 87 to date. 92% of those nests recorded have come from the northern two-thirds of the San Francisco beach (Playa Guachinango), and little to none from the other five beaches. I contacted the local fishermen hoping that they could shed some light on the problem, especially the threat posed by Long-Line fishing for Dorado during the months of October, November, and December, but they knew of nothing out of the ordinary, and assured the drop was normal.

This was not the first time that we had experienced lower than normal nests. In 1998, nest collection dropped to an all time low of 125. At that time I felt that the drop was due to several unusual events of the year before. In late September 1997, a powerful storm driven by El Niño lashed the coast with large waves and heavy rain. After the storm had passed, the beaches were cut with steep banks, covered with mountains of driftwood, and the ocean itself had turned to a rust-brown color that lasted for months afterwards. From September 1997 to June 1999 we received far less than the normal number of nests. After examining the records carefully, I feel that the drop in nests this season is a direct result of Hurricane Kenna last year. Somehow the marine turtles anticipate a problem, perhaps poor beach conditions the coming season, and skip a year or two.

On the other hand, the lack of nests works out well with the shortage of volunteers this season. To date over twenty prospective volunteers signed up, set their arrival dates, and then faded away never to be heard of again. In most cases by the time we discovered there was a problem, it was too late to find replacements. I personally feel that the problem lies in the economy; young people just donut have the discretionary money to travel as they used to. To date we have had the pleasure of working with six volunteers, Bob Huge and Sarah William, June 20 to July 11, Les and Leora Rohssler August 8 to 18, and Dave Dunn and Paul Tsaros starting on August 15. If all goes okay, we will pick up two more young ladies in September.

And then there is the Dune buggy. In the past, as many volunteers found out the hard way, you never boast on how well its running, in fear that it would immediately break down on the next run. Well, things are different today, and we say that buggy is as good as the day it was built, or even better. What makes the difference today in order of importance: Replacing the rear shocks with heavy-duty spring/shocks stopped the rear wheels from striking the fenders; it also keeps the buggy from becoming stuck. Replacing the floor, rails, and fenders with rustproof metal cuts maintains by 95%. And replacing the entire front end gave us brakes for the first time. Another big plus was replacing the entire electrical system with stainless steel wire. Plus the little thing replaced or rebuilt over the past 18 months i.e. carburetor, transmission, generator, starter, lights, battery, etc. All these repairs have made the buggy very reliable, and a pleasure to drive.

Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.


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