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Newsletter No. 60 - June-July, 2005
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Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Friends

It is highly unusual to release hatchlings before August, although that's just what happened between June 12th and 18th when we released hatchlings from the first two nests of five collected so far this season.

In an effort to break the traditional habit of poaching turtles and their nests, we've decided to start patrolling the beaches on June 15th, two weeks earlier than normal. Also on the 15th, we've begun the annual preseason maintenance of the nursery. With five nests inside, it was sort of like trying to paint the kitchen when someone is cooking. The first job on the list was to remove over seventy-five coconuts and twenty palm fronds that were hanging over its roof. The plastic covering the nursery is about two years old, deteriorating, and will need to be replaced before mid-July.

Except for the broiling sun, June eleventh's cleanup with over one hundred kids, and seven adults went off without a snag. We divided into four teams, determined to clean the entire river (before the first storm), most of the streets in town, and the beach. After the cleanup each participant was given a Phoenix Suns T-shirt, donated by John and Clara Hardesty. (See image below).

The seventeen volunteers this season are returning for their third or fourth seasons; they are, David Dunn, Andres, Mexico; Riikka Liisa, Finland; Keillor Petersenn, Nick Sanders, UK; Maria Leehtikunnas, Finland; Paul Tsaros, France; Jim and Linda Sorter, Les and Leora Rohssler, Anna Merwin Moscoso, Hollis Jennings, Benjamin Hash, Gabriela Caloca, Mexico; and Trond Rekvin, Norway

We’re now in the first week of July and little to no rain, a real problem for the jungle and humans alike. Local ranchers, attempting to burn off their land; sometimes wind up accidentally torching off their neighbors land, and in some cases a good chunk of the jungle landscape as well. In southern Mexico, ranchers created several fires each with over a ninety-mile front that burned for three months, or until hurricane Mitch extinguished it in November of 98. How our fires are going to affect us is the question, especially if we receive heavier than normal summer rains. Hopefully, not as villagers in southern México did when hurricane Mitch released heavy rains across a massive fire area, which in turn released tons of mud, sand,and rock upon their homes, fields, and livestock.

Common sense should tell you, if you remove the jungle's canopy, its undergrowth, and the dead organic plant matter beneath it, you will in time cause flooding when heavy summer rains rip away at the fragile topsoil, (normally no more than six inches deep). Heavy rains can transform any drainage into a raging flood in a minute, and erode a gentle slope down to rock in less than a year. The existence of the jungle over these thousands of years was solely dependent on its ability to hold rainwater, and slowly release it down through the cooler, absorbent organic plant matter, soils and rock below. With the human being so dependent on water, why then do they modify the landscape in such a manor that allows most of our valuable rainwater to flood to the sea? Once the canopy is removed and the process of erosion has begun, the sun will dry the surface, reducing the fertility of the thinning topsoil. In time, native plants that have existed on this coastal region for thousands of years will give way to fewer undesirable drought-resistant species of thorn tree, and vines.

About five months ago, a new aquatic plant called Water Lettuce quickly and totally covered the surface of the lagoon. It wasn't clear at first how this plant was going to affect the lagoons and its wildlife. Although today the smell of sewage has all but completely disappeared, the water has cleared up, the population of wildlife has not changed, and the lagoon has vanished under a cloud of green lettuce. (See image below.)

There is an offer and proposal on the drawing board to build a new sewage treatment plant far out of town (where it belongs). The new upgraded plant will recycle sewage into safe irrigation water, which perhaps can be used on a golf course, and/or other landscaping. As for the lagoon, it may quickly dry up without year round sewage water to replenish it. This is only one of many problems facing the lagoon today. Slash-and-burn in the hills above town is drying up the river, and on the other hand creating summer flashfloods that open the lagoon to the sea on a regular bases.

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

Indina Rock Art

Lagoon under a cloud of green

Indina Rock Art

June cleanup

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