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Newsletter No. 85 ~ June, 2008
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Hola Volunteers, Friends, and Supporters ~  

Mid-June marks the threshold of the 2008 marine turtle nesting season and, as mentioned in the last newsletter, we’ve accomplished all tasks necessary to begin collecting nests.  By mid-March, we had successfully repaired the nursery and overhauled the dune buggy.  In mid-June, the last of the ordered supplies had been received.  With the help of the first volunteers we repaired, modified and washed some 290 nest boxes, installed nursery doors, set up the work area, and replaced the plastic cover on the nursery.

We found the first nests around mid-May. That’s too many, too early, and may be a sign that we are heading for another larger than normal season, perhaps around 11,500 nests.

This year’s volunteers come from Poland, England, Canada, México, France and the United States.  Nine of our twenty-six are return volunteers, notably, Jim and Linda Sorter.  The total aggregate time of the twenty-six volunteers equals about 72 months or 6 years of continued service over a six-month period.  For more information, see our Web page http://www.project-tortuga.org/selected.html

As in the past, dogs and home lighting remain two of our most serious problems.  Topping the list is dogs that prowl the beach at night in search of marine turtle hatchlings.  In past years, the loss of hatchlings to dogs was a minor problem, that is, up until last season.  Last August we were forced to relocate some 300 overflow nests to a preselected site on the beach.  This action unfortunately allowed dogs to dig up and eat over 800 hatchlings despite all attempts to stop them.  To prevent this carnage we are planning to construct a temporary nursery on the beach this August.

As for home lighting, this is another serious problem that can only be resolved with the cooperation of residents.  Over the past several years we’ve been able reduced light shining on the beach by 90%.  You can help by asking your summer guests to keep all back porch lights turned off.  Another problem is accumulated light coming from homes on the hills behind the beach.  You can help us while reducing your electrical bill.

Despite three wells to draw water from and the rumors that San Pancho is sitting on a vast underground lake, we are back to water rationing for the fifth straight year.  Residents in town receive water for about four hours a day, beyond Costa Azul even less.  With the introduction of a fourth well you might think that our water problems would be over. Not so. Since its water from this well is not primarily intended for the community, it will only extend water rationing.       

Between June 8th and the 11th, tropical storm Alma dropped 1.4 inches of badly needed rain over San Pancho.  When Alma collapsed in southern México its remnants slowly drifted northeastward and stalled over us.  Generally our first seasonal rain comes in the form of heavy thunderstorms.  In most cases, these storms can cause serious erosion and loss of valuable water, especially if hillsides are bone dry and overgrazed.  This June the chances of serious erosion were reduced, in part, by Alma’s gentle rains, which  turned the hillsides into a profusion of green seedlings and soaked the ground to a depth beyond 12 inches.    

San Pancho receives most of it moisture from heavy, isolated, thunderstorms with a mixture of light showers in between.  Like countless others communities throughout México, there is no guarantee that we will receive sustainable moisture this year or any year.  Like other regions of México, our quest for water hangs in the balance between drought and flood.  When water becomes scarce we tend to fault Mother Nature when, most likely, we caused the problem ourselves.  If the United Nations report on global warming is correct, México will experience serious droughts in the coming decades.

As fossil fuels become scarce, the cost of desalinating seawater via electrical energy will go through the roof.  On the other hand, if ranchers and farmers were paid to protect the watershed by removing livestock, leaving it natural or planting trees in their place, we could have sustainable water many times cheaper than desalinated seawater.   

The lack of tourists over the past several months may be the first signs of financial problems on the horizon.  This is not good as tourism and local residents account for 100% of our annual income.  From 1989 to 1992, a worldwide recession caused serious economic problems for costal communities that relied heavily on tourism.  Today, inflation has driven the dollar down to 9.99 pesos. On the bright side, gasoline is 2.75 per gallon.

Weather-wise, aside from 1.4 inches of gentle rain, it’s been hot, humid, and dusty. Not that different from other years at this time.  The beaches are in excellent condition and the ocean is a comfortably cool 72°.  The lagoon is six feet below normal. Its surface is covered with algae, not seen before and some water lettuce, but overall, good for wildlife.  The entire length of the river bed is unusually dry.

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


Will the upstairs volunteer house by ready by july?................Riikka and Andres's new baby boy, born June17th ................................................................................................His perents have been volunteers Since 2001

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