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Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Friends

Except for fourteen nests relocated along the beach and due to hatch between January 15th and February 28th, the Olive Ridley 2003 nesting season is officially over. During this season a total of 356 nests were recorded, making this season the third largest on record. From the total number recorded, 285 nests were placed within the Group's nursery, producing over 23,556 hatchlings, and the highest ever savable rate: 87%. Another 46 nests were relocated into safer areas along the beach, producing an estimated 3,105 hatchlings, for a grand total of 26,760 hatchlings protected this season. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we tried, the poachers were still able to steal twenty-two nests, and to kill one turtle. A further two nests were washed out by heavy surf.

Since our last newsletter two additional Leatherback nests were found, for a total of seven nests recorded this season; unfortunately the poachers found one of these nests before we did and removed the eggs. It is hard to believe that in our pueblo there are still individuals that would lower themselves to robbing the nests of the most endangered marine turtles. We'll have to be more vigilant in the future.

It is beginning to look more like a grand reunion. To date, twelve former volunteers have shown an interest in joining us this coming season, including, Jim and Linda Sorter and friend Elsworth, Les and Leora Rohssler, Claudia Pancoast and husband, Mary Jane and daughter Morgen, Riikka Immonen, Bronwyn O'Halloran, and Paul Tsaros. However, we are still in need of at least two other volunteers to fill in during the months of September and October. Looking forward to a good nesting season and great potluck dinners.

Many earlier volunteers will return to a notably changed program; for instance the Group's dune buggy, noted for its numerous breakdowns, has been redesigned and overhauled to withstand the most brutal conditions found on both rough muddy roads and sandy beaches, although nothing will protect it against an including an occasional drowning in the ocean or river. The nursery, once exposed to storm waves and hurricanes, and difficult to reach at night, has been moved to my front yard. This new location has proved to be a far better area to manage the incubation of nests; the most notable improvement being the increased ability to control nest the temperature. Volunteer housing, once difficult to find, is no longer a problem.

Our winter fund drive is off to a good start. Contributing homeowners in and around San Pancho have raised over $4,600. T-shirt sales have been brisk as well, although next month $2,600 dollars will be used to purchase 400 new T-shirts.

San Pancho gets a face-lift and out of the ordinary winter rain. The bridge at the head of town was once an eyesore, but under the skilled hands of local construction workers it has turned into an attractive part of the community, including new railings and lights. The community church, once resembling a red brick warehouse, has received a new front, including plants, lights and walkways. The north end of Calle America Latina has been given a strikingly beautiful garden at the entrance of Las Olas Estates (See images below). Twelve days of rain, the first in three months, have brightened up the colors of the jungle, and will go along way to protect it through the long dry months ahead.

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

Newly constructed lighting and railing

And a face on the community Chruch

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