Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Friends
Still no word on the weekly presentation at the Hotel. I have asked to speak to John Cooper on three separate occasions over the last two weeks, but so far no reply. In the meantime, the weekly presentations at Gallo's Pizza Restaurant are generally attended about the same as at the Hotel.
This year's nesting collection records seems to be a little better than last year's. On September first of last year, we found 126 nests; this season we stand at 136 nests. Poaching has been a particular problem, with one individual taking over 70% of fourteen nests; another nine nests were left in the beach.
Last year I wrote about a nesting turtle that was missing a right hind flipper, and was unable to dig her nest . The only way she could lay her eggs is when we quietly snuck up behind her and dug a hole for her. The volunteers noticed her on the beach again this season and returned to the nursery for help. When we returned to the beach, we found that someone had carried her off to butcher. On a happier note, on August 18th the first of three nests scheduled to hatch produced a higher than expected survival rate.
On August 20th and 24th, we attended two meetings hosted by the Mexican Government, Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources. During the meeting, officials pledged their support for nurseries within the State, and offered help in the way of military police to patrol the beaches, and special agents to conduct sting operations on unsuspecting poachers. They may also be allotting some money to the nurseries in the future, but don't hold your breath on that one.
After nearly burning up the dune buggy engine last month, I nearly drowned the poor thing. Let me explain: once or twice a night, we patrol for nests on Playa Questo. Imbedded on this beach are two rocks that protrude out into the surf. Only at low tide, and when the waves are small, can we attempt to pass below them. For safety reasons, I am the only one allowed to attempt this feat. Except for one other time (which just about caused a heart attack, but no damage) the buggy has made it below these two rocks without difficulty.
One night, I crossed below the rocks to reach the other end of Questo; when I returned back, I passed below one without a problem, but at the last rock I stopped in the inky darkness to wait until it was safe to make a run for it to complete my return. To make a long story short, I was hit by a wave that was nearly as high as the buggy. Because of the speed that I was traveling, I was fortunate to reach high ground on the other side before the engine quit. An hour later, with the help of six community volunteers, we were able the push the buggy up to higher ground out of reach on the waves. The next morning the buggy was towed off Questo to the nursery. Three days later of minor adjustments, it was on the beach again running flawlessly.
The past two months have been drier than normal. August rainfall was 7.63 inches, three inches less than July. August's highest daytime temperature was 91°; lowest nighttime temperature, 77°. On the 20th the river began to flow to the sea for the first time in nine months as a result of fierce 2.05-inch downpour and flashfloods. The flashflood that opened the lagoon to the sea for about ten days.
Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
Olive Ridley turtle nesting