Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Friends ~
It has been years since we last placed nests in a secured fenced nursery on the beach, especially during the winter. Generally, cold weather after November 24th makes it almost impossible to incubate nests in the indoor box nursery at my house. However, this season we had no choice. Between November 24th and the end of December we collected a total of 48 late season nests and placed them in a beach nursery to incubate. In the summer it takes about 45 days for nests to hatch. In the winter it is a different story. It could take 60 days or longer to hatch. Although, if the eggs remain in the cold sand for longer than 60 days the nest has a greater chance of failing. Despite the winter cold the last 48 nests, with a survival rate of 88.8%, produced a surprisingly high number of hatchlings. The figure below of 79,788 hatchlings released may go over 80,000 if other nests are found. Hatchlings from the last three nests were released on February 28th.
Box nursery at my house
86% survival rate
Left on beach in better protected areas
89% survival rate
Beach nursery summery
75% survival rate
Beach nursery winter
89% survival rate
Nests taken illegally
1,061 nests recorded
94,195 eggs protected
79,877 hatchlings released
Our attempts to bring in volunteers have hit a wall. Both the recruitment of return and new volunteers is down by 50%. Of the 21 applications received over the past six months only four individuals have agreed to join us citing financial problems as the reason for canceling. That’s understandable. Anyone that would like to help this summer please let us know as soon as possible. We could use your help. For up to date information on the upcoming nesting season volunteers should take a look at the webpage http://www.project-tortuga.org/selected.html.
The economy may also be the reason why the sale of the Homeowners Directory is down by 20%. I’ve come to the conclusion that driving endless miles over the streets of San Pancho is not a cost effective way to make a sale. Instead, I’ve turned to calling homeowners to make a point to point delivery, cutting the driving down by 90%. If you have not received a 2009 Homeowners Directory, drop my house or give me a call and I will deliver them. Otherwise, I’ll be calling you.
San Pancho is getting a new main street, a new bridge connecting Lemmus to calle El Salvador and perhaps the surfacing of three other streets. The plans for avenida Tercer Mundo are somewhat unclear but for now we know it calls for a roadway constructed of colored concert with a stamped block design. Some members of the community that wish to preserve the old design are trying to modify this plan to incorporate loose concert blocks as it is now. My concern is health. If they are going to do anything, they should tackle the problem of choking street dust. A solid concrete roadway (without potholes) that’s hopefully crowned in the center and lower at the gutter will wash the street free of mud and dust. The construction crew is working 24/7 to get the job done as quickly as possible.
Weather and otherwise, over the past two months we received several brief sprinkles just enough to wash the plants clean while local temperatures have ranged from 87° days to 68° nights. The river is still feeding the lagoon although the water level within is slowly dropping. The amount of water flowing in the river today is a positive sign that we may have enough water to get us through the year.
Tourism in San Pancho had been down slightly throughout the year except for a three month period between mid-November and mid-February. For those months tourism dropped to summer lows perhaps caused by the US economy and rumors of the Mexican drug cartel. Despite the economy or the cartel, today there is a huge influx of vacationers taking advantage of the exchange rate of 15.5 pesos per dollar. Gasoline has once again dropped below two dollars a gallon.
Over the years, tourists have been a growing part of our effort to protect the marine turtle and its habitat. They help as they can, whether it’s cleaning nest boxes or joining us on a nightly run in the dune buggy. Although help from tourists can only work well when there are enough well-trained volunteers to guide them. However, because it takes up to three weeks to train volunteers how to collect nests, drive the dune buggy, etc., we may not have time to train volunteers and entertain tourists at the same time.
This brings up another sticking point. Overloading the dune buggy is perhaps one of the prime reasons for mechanical breakdown. Instead of placing tourists on the dune buggy, it would be better to hire a well-trained local volunteer with a quad-runner. This volunteer would be on call at night and would charge tourists for the experience of visiting the beach to release hatchlings and/or observing nesting turtles. Puerto Vallarta has dolphin encounters. Let's promote turtle encounters.
Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C
Mexico tel. (311) 258-4100
America Latina #102
San Francisco, Nayarit, Mexico
.......Recostruction of Avenida Tercer Mundo