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Newsletter No. 87 ~ August, 2008
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Hola Volunteers, Friends, and Supporters ~  

A new record! On the night/morning of August 24/25 we recorded 43 nests, breaking the old record of 29 nests set on the night/morning of September 3/4, 2007. It is hard to believe that so many nests could be found in one night. 43 nests is about 21% of all the nests collected in our inaugural year of 1992.
By the end of August we had recorded no less than 482 nests. This is about 167 more nests than this time last year, heading for perhaps 1,200 nests by year's end. The nest break down runs like this: 288 placed in the nursery, 156 relocated to Playa Questo, Los Chololo and Las Bancas and 38 taken illegally by poachers. To date, the first twenty nests have hatched with outstanding results of 90.5%.
Poaching has been and will be a problem for decades to come. Only by being on the beaches 24/7 could we ever hope to stop them.  Over 62% of all nests are taken from Playa Los Chololo and Las Bancas and primarily on Saturday nights. We had no idea who we were dealing with until Quentin nailed a trio of teenagers crossing Los Chololo at 2:30 AM. After questioning, the three turned around and headed back to San Pancho. Playa Questo is another weekend problem area. Although poaching is only 16% there, the poachers come from both Sayulita and San Pancho and are much older and belligerent.  Aside from getting the nests before they do, the next step is to have the police accompany us.
The nursery at my house will reach full capacity shortly after September, as the last of 270 nest boxes are filled. At this point, the nursery will only be able to handle six to eight additional nests per night when boxes become available after hatchlings are released.  All other nests will be placed in the temporary nursery on the beach, (see photo below). The temporary nursery will be in place for less than three months and may hold upwards of 300 nests. 
The new, 1,500 sq. ft. beach nursery cost less than $350.00 and includes a five foot high fence, 300 stakes to identify nests, rings on each nest to keep out parasites, a plywood door, chain and lock.
It was lucky that we had an outstanding team of eight volunteers on the job last month; otherwise the cancellation of four volunteers in August would have been a serious problem that may have overwhelmed us all. As things stand, there were little days off and most volunteers work most the night. August volunteers are: Johanne Pouliot, Lisa Fisher: Canada, Jim and Linda sorter, Quentin Cooley, Bethany Jenkins, Jessica Joy Schmidt. Molly Ginty: USA and Jakub Gogolewski: Poland. (See photo below)
As for the government "Protección Civil y Bomberos" that were responsible for keeping vehicles off the beach, including us, we've not seen or heard from them since the first contact. Although this does not mean that the problem has gone away.
Saturday, August 30th, was a breaking point for the dune buggy. While driving back to town from Los Chololo the entire front end of the dune buggy broke off, separating the front wheels and axle from the chassis with only the steering column and break lines still attached.  Aside from the original brake, there is no other structural damage to the buggy and, with luck, it should be back on the beach in two days.
After receiving a distress call via cell phone from Johanne on the beach, I realized that cell phones, not walkie-talkies, were the answer to our communication problems.  A little over a year ago cell phone towers were constructed along the coast and communication to and from all six beaches became a reality. Purchasing three cell phones happened just five days before the night of August 29th when volunteers found two young poachers on the beach digging up a nest. They were stopped and told get off the beach. As they left, they were talking on a cell phone. To whom?  Moments later we spotted two other young poachers running to the south.  After a long chase and trapping two poachers under a bush, we found them talking on a cell phone to the first two. 
Weather-wise, despite the earlier heavy rains we are only about .84 of an inch ahead of last year at this time. To date we have received about 24.27 inches.

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

             Overflow nursery, but can hole up to 300 nests.

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