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Newsletter No. 63 - October, 2005
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Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Friends

By the end of September, we had collected over 280 nests. Seven other nests, or 2%, had been left on the beach in better locations, while poachers have taken 24 or 8%. To date, 70 nests have hatched, producing over 5,800 hatchlings with perhaps another 25,000+ hatchlings expected by season's end.

On the night September 22nd. our marine turtle nursery filled to capacity. The shelves contained 188 boxes, about 15 more than the nursery was designed to hold. In addition, my front porch held another 17 nests scheduled to hatch within the next five days. Earlier this month, a small area on the beach was groomed to receive the overflow nests. This area had to be free of lights, out of the path of horses, high enough not to be flooded by waves, and out of reach of the carnivore ants. In the meantime, we were doing everything possible to reload the nest boxes as soon as they became available after hatchling.

Prior to the 22nd. We had received up to 12 nests a night, and had expected the same in the nights to come; but as it turned out, we were extremely lucky and only one nest had to be moved into the special area, and within three weeks the crisis should be over.The poaching of marine turtles and their nests has been an inexhaustible problem throughout México, and a problem we may never totally solve locally. Unfortunately, one poacher on the beach can cause a discouraging amount damage. No matter what we do to stop him, he seems to find the nests. Our only defense is to be present on all six beaches at the same time, during the entire night. One poacher in mind, Gabriel, has over the past twenty-five years, taken thousands of nests and has butchered hundreds of marine turtles; yet he has not spent a day in jail. If you see him walking to the bus stop with a heavily loaded backpack, it is most likely filled with fresh turtle meat.

Over the past six months, Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C., has been invited to join two very new Civil Associations (A.C. still without names). The first group includes operators of marine turtle nurseries and government agencies delegated to oversee the preservation of endangered species in the State of Nayarit. The second group is a union of about fifteen other environmental Civil Associations in the municipality of Bahía de Bandaras. This Group will focus on the protection of the costal area and slowing down out-of-control development. We could have used something like this ten years ago, but better late than never. At the present time. we are a member of one other association, "Unión de Grupo Ambientalistas", a union of all environmental groups in México.

September-October volunteers: Jim and Linder Sorter-California; Linda has left the program to spend two weeks in the backcountry of Nepal, and Jim will return home to meet her on October 1st. Jim was joined by friend Ellsworth Hilligoss in the last of September. Nick Sanders-UK, Maria Lehtikunnas-Finland, Anna Moscoso-USA, and Trond Rekvin-Norway will remain with the program until mid November.

Total rainfall recorded between June first and the end of September was 33% below last year's, and 57% below the average annual rainfall. The lack of rain has, for the most part, kept the mouth of the lagoon closed throughout September. It appears that 100% of the water lettuce has been washed out to the ocean as the mouth of the lagoon was forced open several times throughout the month of September.

Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
México tel. (311) 258-4100
America Latina #102
San Francisco, Nay., México

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