Ecovolontariat au Mexique: Rapport mensuel
Conservation in Mexico - Monthly Update June - September 2012
We are just nearing the end of the turtle high season, but there have been many changes and improvements at camp since the start of 2012. Below you can read what we’ve been getting up to on our Pacific coastal retreat!
In June it was still pretty quiet on the nesting front, with only 5 nests for the week, but from the second week of July that increased to about 15. By the end of July and going into August, the numbers grew from about 20 to 80. To put it into perspective, by the end of June we had about 90 nests in total for the year so far. In just two months that number went up to 1600; the high season was clearly in full swing!
Not only do we have more nests than the previous months, but during the patrols at night we also saw more and more turtles whilst they were laying. The most common of these are the Olive Ridley, but we have spotted a few Leatherbacks as well, which is very exciting, not only because of their impressive size, but they are also extremely endangered.
Having more nests naturally means we have more hatchlings; The Olive Ridley eggs take about 40 to 45 days to hatch, so there have been plenty of releases of the hatchlings, which is always a highlight for the volunteers. The turtle high season runs to October, so until then the busy mornings continue.
We are also currently housing a Hawksbill turtle, which was found near the coastal town of Manzanillo. We are taking care of it until it has gained enough strength to be released again. Normally this species only lives in the more southern areas of Mexico so it was quite a rare find.
The crocodile farm is located at a lagoon which houses approximately 300 crocodiles. As a data collection exercise in June our volunteers visited another nearby lagoon to look for crocodile nests and record their location. It was an exciting walk with the chance to see crocodiles completely in the wild. That same month we collected nests at the Farm’s lagoon, and re-located them to the crocodiles that are held in captivity. Crocodiles are not concerned if it’s not their own nest, they will take care of the eggs as if they were their own.
By moving the eggs to an area that can be easily monitored, we can be sure that the mother crocodile helps the babies to hatch as their survival rate in the wild is very low. When the little crocodiles have hatched, we can then catch them to tag them. If the babies hatch out in the lagoon, it would be extremely difficult to monitor them, and also protect them from predators during their vulnerable early stages.
At the nearby lagoon the biodiversity project is still being performed. Volunteers take their species checklists out to the lagoon twice a week to record the diversity of the wildlife. The data is then compiled back at camp.
The camp has seen a lot of improvements so far this year. Up until recently the volunteers have been staying in tents, but they now have their very own bunk house to sleep in! We have three dorms which can house up to 30 people at a time. It’s not exactly 5*, but it has a certain rustic charm!
The corral (the area where we bury the turtle nests each morning) has also been increased in size, and we’ve built an extra one in order to accommodate all the nests. We also have a new quad bike for the patrols, allowing us to perform more patrols at the same time, which is necessary in high season.
We’ve had a busy time with the volunteers, and during July we housed record numbers at camp including the 2 Week Special volunteers. Thankfully everybody got along famously and there was a great atmosphere.
Activities at the camp run from Monday to Friday, so during the weekends volunteers are free to travel to see some of the beautiful sites Mexico has to offer. Popular spots for the volunteers were Manzanillo, Colima, Comala and Melaque. Those weekends are perfect for buying souvenirs for family and friends at home, relaxing, getting to know the culture, and off course, having a nice proper shower!