San Pancho and Turtle News from Costa Verde
Frank D. Smith - Costa Verde Ecological Group

October 5, 2017

Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Readers ~ 

Paul in the white t-shirt

We have one very sad message to start with. Pavlos Tsaros or Paul one of our most outstanding volunteers throughout the summer nesting seasons of 2003-04 and 05 passed away in September from a heart attack.  He was full of never-ending energy, fun and he possessed a keen knowledge regarding the marine turtles.

By the end of September the nest count dropped by 21% as compared to the past seven years. This year 244 nests were recorded in September along with thirty additional nests which were left on the beach. 11 nests were taken by poachers. The total nests recorded to date come to 644. To this same date we have released 11,703 hatchlings which translates to 87% survival. We have 280 boxes left to clean. In short, we have hatchlings coming out of our ears.

On September 28th, the dune buggy’s transmission failed and the next day it was towed to Santana Volkswagen in Puerto Vallarta for repairs. The plan was to replace the entire front wheel assembly (brakes and bearings), replace the rear tires as well as the transmission and install a new clutch. My Honda was used to patrol the beach while the buggy was out for two days.

Part time volunteers for August: Manuel Murrieta, Julio Gonzales and America, Juan Flores. Fulltime:  Lisa Fisher, Robert Turner Anderson and Caitlyn Sweat, Zac Wilson, Lois Barton Karen Sorum and Hallie Loveridge.

Around September 9th our beaches began receiving tons of floating debris including plastic containers. Since the debris contained floating rocks of pumice it was obvious that it came from the Ameca River basin. Many years ago when I traveled up the Ameca River to the very end of the road I noticed that most of the homes and all of the towns along the banks were dumping their trash in the river. Nice! “out of sight, out of mind”. Unfortunately, It’s not “out of sight” on our beaches and not “out of mind” for the hundreds of hatchlings that can’t find their way through this debris.

Hurricane Norma came to life on September 14th around 500 miles southwest of us. By the 16th her waves were powerful enough to cut a four to six foot cliff along the entire beach except for the far north end. For weeks nesting turtles were not able to reach the upper level of the beach. Many were forced to dig their nests below the cliffs where the waves would breach them. Juan Flores made a special effort to rescue dozens of these nests that we could not see. Thank you Juan!

On September 22nd, heavy rains began cutting away the beach in front of town at about two feet per hour. In one day nearly 35 feet of beach was cut away near the restaurants. The cliffs were caused by a 3 foot deep, fifty foot wide river which broke out of the lagoon. If the rains continue through October the river may take out both restaurants.

On the 25th, Tropical Storm Pilar played by different rules. She hugged the coast with rains but didn’t cause any other damage. As for our beaches, they look like hell. Lakes of mud to the north, deep erosion gullies everywhere, and hundreds of tons of flotsam and debris littering the beach.

Weather-wise: Daytime temperatures have been mostly in the mid to high 80°s, night time temperatures were in the mid to high 70°s. September rainfall came to 20.04 inches, for the year 55.68 inches. Except for hurricanes Norma and Pilar there were no other outstanding weather events.

The peso was 17.1 and 17.8 per dollar by the end of the month; regular gasoline in San Pancho was 16.27 pesos per liter, and 3.88 a gallon.

Frank D. Smith, Director
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
Project Tortuga
Tel. 311-258-4100

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