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Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Friends ~

Ready or not, mid-June marked the start of the 2007-nesting season, it also marked the date that several arduous tasks had to be accomplished as well. Trimming the two palm trees that cover the nursery, moving three small shrubs out of the way, expanding the nursery to accommodate sixty additional nests, overhaul the electrical system, and washing out all the nest boxes as well as the nursery itself. Despite the hot humid weather, all tasks were finished on time and to our expectations, we are almost ready.

Although, one other critical problem must be corrected by the end of July. Any unnecessary, and/or excess artificial lights that shine on the beach will disorient adult turtles and hatchlings alike. After laying their eggs, an adult turtle can travel up to an extra mile to reach an exposed light, an unfortunate experience for a turtle, which was exhausted even before she began to lay her eggs. Hatchlings will always travel away from the sea in the direction of any artificial light. The job of releasing hatchling is not an easy one, especially when lights are present. As a community, we must make a choice between lighting our yards or caring for the well-being of the Marine Turtle.

Despite the onset of the nesting season, we have not found a single nest or even a track. This is a little unusual for June, a month when we should have found at least six nests. On the other hand, the absence of nests works out to our advantage. Nests do not incubate well until at least the first week of July.

The staffing of volunteers turned out to be easier than expected with only three cancellations which caused no problems to our overall scheduling. To date we have enlisted over 20 volunteers, an average of seven per day, or three or four per shift, which is ideal. By June we welcomed our first four volunteers including another family that is planning to live here permanently.

Cultivating new volunteers, a letter from Mariska and Donny, 2004 and 2006 volunteers: "As amazing as it is that sea turtles are born on land, as amazing we think it is that Miguel was born under water. We rented a birth tub, it is a more relaxing way of being born for a baby, and that therefore water-babies cry less. We thought that our lives would be turned up side down, but it feels very natural for us too all of a sudden have a son. He is very quiet, does not cry (so far), eats well, sleeps well, and is just the perfect baby." From above the arctic circle is another future volunteer, two year old Alissa, daughter of Riikka and Andres, 2002-2006 volunteers. (See photos below)

It's a little uncanny. The Group's dune buggy has been running flawlessly for nearly a year. It makes you wonder what she's up too, and when she's going to have a mechanical nervous breakdown.

By the end of June, we had received just over an inch of rain. Over the past few years this has been a normal amount for the end of June and is not a sign of an impending drought but it is a concern, especially when looking at the weather satellites. Winds out of the Pacific have blown thunderstorms inland away form the coast and, in some cases, into the Gulf of México. If these weather patterns continue through the summer, it could suggest a bigger problem and may be the first subtle sign of climate change due to global warming.

June 1st marked the first day of water rationing. As a community, we have been asked not to over water plants, wash vehicles, water down the streets or use any more water than absolutely necessary. Like the year before, the pipeline to the north side of town has been almost completely shut off.

I once lived in the mountains where pure granite cliffs and domes stood in contrast to the pine forest. Below these cliffs and domes lay fields of deep composed granite and springs of cool, crystal-clear water fed by snow banks above. After moving to San Pancho nearly sixteen years ago, I became familiar with a very different geological landscape and set of weather patterns. Although different, it was not difficult to understand how moisture moved slowly through the watershed to the wellhead below.

As mentioned in an earlier newsletter, the bedrock along the coast of Nayarit, unlike bedrock of granite, decomposes into clay which blocks most water from seeping into the bedrock itself. Despite the somewhat thin soils between the surface and the bedrock, the jungle has flourished along these coastal slops for centuries. Its canopy softens the impact of the rain and keeps the sun far from its surface, while the jungle covers the surface with a thick mat of decomposing organic matter. This ideal condition traps moisture between the surface and the clay below. In a time span that may take several years, moisture moves down through the river basin to the aquifer and wellhead below. If undisturbed, this natural process will ensure an abundance of water for plants, animals, and humans throughout the year.

The secret of maintaining sufficient water throughout the year is simple; keep as much rainfall on the land as possible. Unfortunately, careless human activity in and around San Pancho is doing exactly the opposite. For all intents and purposes, we are covering our entire watershed with a thick sheet of plastic. Strange as it may sound, this is exactly what is happening when we allow the jungle to be slashed-and-burnt and its slopes overgrazed by livestock. As a result, each year more rainfall escapes into the sea, drying up our aquifer.

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


Donny, Mariska and Miguel, the next photo is the Daughter of Andres and Riikka, Alissa

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