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Newsletter No. 52 - August, 2004
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Hola Volunteers, Supporters, and Friends ~

As it was during the beginning of last season, this nesting season is off to a very slow start. By August first, only twenty nests had been collected and placed in our nursery, two were taken by poachers, and seven were left in the beach, for a total of twenty-nine, or 57% of normal for this time of year. On the other side of the coin, if all goes well, the first hatchling should be released on August eighteenth.

Over the past two years, the dune buggy has been fairly reliable. When a problem did bring it to a halt, it was more or less driver error, or a part that should have been replaced in a timely fashion. On July 30, a combination of three maintenance errors caused enough damage to the engine to require us to take it into the Volkswagen mechanic in Puerto Vallarta. The problem began two days earlier when the oil was checked and found to be low, but not low enough to add more. On the night of the 30th, while we were on the beach checking for nests, a plastic nest bag was sucked into the face of the cooling fan, causing the engine to slowly overheat. After the dune buggy cooled down, Paul and I drove over to Playa Questo where we noticed that it was overheating again, and returned to the nursery. By the next morning, I was convinced that the overheating was caused by lack of oil, until I noticed the plastic bag covering the cooling fan and that one plug wire had dropped off.

Throughout the past ten years, members and volunteers of Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde have offered a weekly presentation to the guests of the Costa Azul Adventure Resort. As noted in scores of letters, e-mail messages and conversations afterwards, this presentation is the most entertaining and memorable evening activity offered by the resort. In itself the presentation is a win-win scenario for both the guests of the hotel and the Group. Guests, including walk-in public, receive a one hour informative presentation including, if available, the opportunity to watch the releasing of hatchlings, and the viewing of nesting turtles. In return, the Group is able to raise money through the sale of T-shirts to fund its programs.

However, despite years of providing this presentation to the hotel guests, our relationship with hotel has been somewhat tenuous, and far from perfect. Our last falling-out began shortly after I returned from a three-month long vacation in early July. I was then notified that I was not welcome at the hotel for reasons I cannot truly understand, especially when our work to protect the marine turtle has given the hotel so much in return. While the marine turtle has all but disappeared along the coastal waters between Nuevo Vallarta and Platanitos, we in San Francisco are fortunate to have the only healthy population for a distance of 30 miles. The manager of the hotel should be happy, not spiteful, to have the power of the marine turtle to draw tourists for decades to come.

In the meantime, while waiting to see if we are welcome at Costa Azul again, we have designed a second presentation that will be held at Gallo's Pizza Restaurant on Thursday nights. This new arrangement will give us a running start in case we cannot return to the hotel.

July rainfall 10.72 inches, July highest daytime temperature 93°, lowest nighttime temperature 76°. The river is basically dry, the lagoon has opened to the sea twice, and beaches are clear.

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

August Volunteer 2004

July Volunteers:

Top row: Andres, Bronny, Paul, Riikka, Ryan, Melissa
Bottom row: Jim, Linda, Andrew and Heiro

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