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Newsletter No. 93 - March/April, 2009
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Hola Volunteers, Friends, and Supporters ~  

Since the last newsletter we have found three additional nests for a total of 1,063 nests which brings the estimated number of hatchlings released up to 79,688.  Over the past 17 years, we have released 439,437 Olive Ridley, 41 Eastern Pacific, and 815 Leatherback hatchlings and 63,693 Olive Ridley from Nuevo Vallarta.
Over the last several years, I’ve come to the point where I personally never again want to care for another Leatherback nest.  My concern rests with their nesting season which runs from December through March. In reality, our beaches are far too cold to properly incubate their nests.  Although, on the morning of March 21st, I received a telephone call asking me to pick up a single hatchling that had been found on our local beach.  When I arrived at the house I was pleasantly surprised to be handed a Leatherback hatchling. Within minutes we had located its nest and uncovered 58 to 62 shells indicating that at least 60 hatchlings had successfully made their way to the sea. The nesting mother had covered up the nest so carefully that no one suspected its existence.  Perhaps the success of this nest was due in part to the warmer than normal beach temperature this winter.    
In defense of the Group's Dune Buggy:  Over the winter I received numerous complaints calling for the replacement of the buggy. I will be the first to agree that the buggy at times can be a pain but consider these facts.  If the buggy was driven by an experienced driver exclusively on the open highway it would probably run for months with few problems.  However, it is driven up to 25 miles a night over the harshest conditions: in heavy rain over rough muddy roads, in saltwater over abrasive sand and debris.  Aside from these harsh conditions there is another factor to consider, an often inexperienced driver.
Despite weekly preventive maintenance checks and ongoing diver training, breakdowns happen. Especially when the driver fails to notice or identify impending problems in time.  These problems could include a missing fan belt or lug bolts, leaky gas line, detached spark plug wires or electrical lines, loose gas pedal, battery or clutch cables, broken frame welds, shifting linkage out of alignment, or even strange sounds coming from the transmission, engine or wheel bearings, etc.  The driver can also cause serious damage if they race the engine at high RPM’s or lug the engine in the wrong gear or force the shifting lever.  Yes, breakdowns happen, but if the buggy is driven correctly and carefully, it can maneuver through the rough terrain and worst weather with few problems.    
In any case, at the end of April, we towed the buggy into Puerto Vallarta where it will have the ball-joints in the front wheel trailer arms replaced, breaks adjusted, a new muffler and a host of other small items repaired and, if necessary, new rings and valves in readiness for this coming summer.
Weather and otherwise, except for two brief sprinkles there has been no rain over the past two months. Temperatures are unusually cool for late April, especially at night when most people are still using blankets.  Water continues to flow into the lagoon although levels are slightly below normal. There are some small patches of water lettuce beginning to cover the lagoon’s surface.  On March 22nd, any evidence of water under the bridge upstream had vanished. This is an indication that the town wells are drawing down moisture within the watershed. The jungle is beginning to show signs of drying and there was one small earthquake to spice things up.   
The task of enlisting volunteers is almost complete. The volunteer lineup goes something like this: 12 volunteers will be returning, 19 volunteers are new to the program, while 8 are couples, 3 kids. The average length of stay is 2.1 months. Volunteers come from: Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, England and the USA.  If you have the time, please visit http://www.project-tortuga.org/selected.html

We have a mystery on our hands. Why do cases of swine flu in México appear to be more severe then those found elsewhere around the world, and are there more cases of swine flu here than reported?  Swine flu may have begun in México in late March in the small town of La Gloria in the State of Veracruz, México. The first death occurred in Oaxaca on April 8th.  From Oaxaca it reached México City within a week.  Although, because this strain of swine flu was mild it was not until April 23rd hat it was recognized as A/H1N1 Swine Flu Virus by a laboratory in the United States.
Of some 200 people that have died in México City, only seven cases actually died of swine flu virus.  In reality, more people were dying of the common flu than swine flu.  Generally 12,000 people die of common flu annually in México.  Therefore, it would not have been that unusual to have 200 flu deaths in one week, especially in an over-crowed city of twelve million people, at an altitude of 2,240 meters, or 7,000 feet, and one of the smoggiest cities in the world.

The question is, was the swine flu so mild that it was mistaken for the common flu?  Had it covered México from border to board over the past six week?

The combination of counting every flu death as swine flu, media hype, fear and misinformation was perhaps the reason why the flu problem in México appeared to be more severe than it really was.  On the other hand, in the United States annual flu vaccine and better case reporting may be the reason why cases appear to be less severe.  But there is still the question why is there sixteen deaths in México and nowhere else.
As of May 2, 2009, the closest case to San Pancho is about 180 miles to the northeast in El Tiempo, Nayarit, Mexico.  Although there are two cases 8 miles from my hometown in Idyllwild, California.  Take a look at the swine Flu map on http://healthmap.org/swineflu

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

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