Hola Volunteers, Friends, and Supporters ~
By the end of September, we recorded over 775 nests. 451 were placed in the box nursery while another 70 were placed in our beach nursery. A total of 190 nests were relocated to better areas along Playa Questa, Las Bancas and Los Chololo. From the above nests, an estimated 57,774 hatchlings will make it to the sea while 62 nests were taken illegally. On September 8th extremely bad road conditions forced us to discontinue our efforts to collect nests on Playas Las Bancas and Los Chololo.
There are three basic reasons why marine turtles will not come ashore to nest. 1) They are afraid of being flipped on their backs by heavy waves, often generated by hurricanes. 2) After flooding when the coastal waters are inundated with debris such as floating logs, trees, etc. 3) Colder than normal weather, especially cold rain. The question is how long can they hold their eggs while waiting for better conditions?
Peak nesting occurs in September within six days before, and including, the moon’s second-quarter. This season, colder than normal weather kept most nesting turtles offshore. On 9/12 we recorded 202 nests above all other seasons, but as a result of cold weather that led dropped to less than 136 by 9/30. At this point we are not sure what the final count will be, although it should be between 900 to 1,050 nests.
Despite cancellations by several volunteers we were able to stay on course, although at an exhausting pace. Aside from our regular volunteers, Jim and Linda Sorter’s family pitched in taking over many shifts, walking the beaches, collecting nests and re-nesting them in the hatchery. September volunteers were Johanne Pouliot, Lisa Fisher, Bethany Jenkins, Kuba Gogolewski, Jessica Joy Schmidt, Jim and Linda Sorter and family, Tim and Elise Capley and family.
Over the years, volunteers have enjoyed the company of the dogs while collecting nests. Many of these dogs are strays looking for human companionship. It sounds harmless at first but I have found that in almost every case these dogs, if not watched carefully, will pick up the bad habit of eating hatchlings and digging up nests within a period of four to six months. Frieda was one such dog but she quickly learned that getting close to any hatchling or near a nest led to a quick and stern reprimand. Unfortunately, this punishment is the only way in which to stop a dog from acquiring this bad habit and they learn very quickly.
The dune buggy! After a number of flat tires that necessitated the purchase of two used rear tire rims, followed by a series of starter problems also leading to the purchase of a used starter, we had hoped our troubles were over. We had a few good days, and then a long series of alternator problems began that again resulted in the purchase of a new alternator, battery and battery cables.
After months of fighting with the carburetor, that too ended in the purchase of a new carb. Then the entire front-end fell off! After enjoying a few days of good driving, the clutch went out and was quickly repaired. We were back on the beach when the shifting linkage snapped off inside the transmission and the buggy had to be towed into Puerto Vallarta. The total cost of all these repairs came to 15,800 pesos. Today the breakdowns continue, but they are minor now because all the major parts have been replaced except the motor, tempting fate, huh?...
Despite the problems, the buggy can have its finer moments and can be a hero as well! Around 2 am on October 1st, the police came to the nursery wanting to be driven out on the beach in search of a man who had just robbed two San Pancho women at knife point. Within a short period of time they found their man hidden in a hammock. Later, he was positively identified as the robber.
While in Puerto Vallarta, I met Eric and his wife of Sayulita. Eric mentioned that they have been collecting and protecting Olive Redley nests along their local beach. Over the past 16 years several different groups had tried to protect marine turtle nests in that area, perhaps collecting as many as 20 nests in any one year. I was pleasantly surprised when Eric mentioned that they found over 70 nests. Playa Questo, our most southern beach, is less than two miles from the north end of the Sayulita beach. I’ve always felt that hatchlings returning for the first time after eleven years at sea would see the Sayulita beach as part of a group of ten beaches that stretch from Las Clavellinas to Sayulita encompassing all six of our beaches. The protection of these nests is positively good news.
Don’t forget to support the upcoming spay/neuter clinic this November. This clinic is perhaps the most important community program to date, and needs our help. Donations can be sent to:
261 Arlington Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Calle Pakistan #13
Weather-wise, as mentioned above, cold and rainy weather persisted throughout September, somewhat like the weather of yester-years, although colder than I remember. The river had been running at near flood stage for most of the month and at its base ripped a 300-foot wide breach between the lagoon and ocean. By the beginning of October, nights had for the most part turned cool while days were far less humid.
Also, by the end of September we had received about 37 inches of rain. This amount is 5.5 inches over the previous two years total rainfall. The good news is that we still have October and that could bring us an additional 6 inches. Unfortunately, today, as you can see by the river, our watershed can no longer hold this rain.
Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C
Mexico tel. (311) 258-4100
America Latina #102
San Francisco, Nayarit, Mexico
Jim and Linda, Jessica, Johanne, Bethany and Kuba with Rosa