Update Jan. 2013
Happy New Year to one and all!
Yes I am still here, but
for how much longer, I cannot say. I am waiting to hear from the United
States Fish and Wildlife Service, hoping that I will receive the grant
of $27,000 that I, with the help of my sister Mary Ann, have applied
for. This money would enable me to keep going for at least another year.
But, there are so many applicants and so few grants to be awarded, that
it is a long shot at best.
Here is a little data…..
In the first 10 months of this 12 month turtle season that, for practical
purposes runs from March through February, I have acquired 91 nests.
Last year in the same time frame I had acquired 122 nests. I have two
more months left in this season, before starting the next in March.
So far this season I have purchased 5,500 eggs from the poachers who
would have otherwise sold them to the cantinas or in the market. I have
personally collected 2,545 eggs, releasing 5,381 baby turtles with 17
more nests in the incubators. These numbers do not include the eggs
from our other incubator on the other side of the point (it has received
approximately 500 eggs to date).
I have installed a Microsoft
Excel program to help be keep track of the data that I have been collecting,
and have received some wonderful advice on how to do this from Dr. Karen
Eckert of “WIDECAST”, and Dr. Tony Tucker of “MOTE
Marine”. But, alas, I have been living without electricity for
the past 2 months, and this makes it a bit difficult to keep the laptop
battery charged. My water pump also is electric, and so I have also
been without water. Thankfully, there is a spring with clean drinking
water behind the house.
I have been able to save
several adult Olive Ridleys and a few Green sea turtles this year and
on Dec. 14th. a female Hawksbill was washed up on the beach. She was
covered with several hundred barnacles, the largest measuring 2.5 inches
across. She was so near to being dead that, at first, I thought that
she was. She must have been floating for weeks, if not months, and the
barnacles were fastened deep into her flesh and shell. After carefully
cleaning her with knife, hammer and chisel, she was released into one
of our fresh water fish ponds, where she remained comatose for the next
5 days while I tried to force feed her chicken eggs, fish, and crushed
crabs. She regurgitated almost everything, but either because she was
able to take some nourishment from this, or because she was tired of
my harassment, she started trying to swim, but she could not dive and
forage. It seems that she had gotten some air trapped in her shell and
it took her another 2 days to work this out of her system. Then she
started to eat, and now she has been trying to make up for lost time,
consuming 1.5 lbs. of fish per day. I have also been taking her to the
tide pools to forage in the saltwater. She now seems strong enough to
release, but I am hesitant because for the past month I have been seeing
as many as 14 long line fishing boats working around the end of this
peninsula, not to mention all the shrimp trawlers that continue to decimate
the turtle population here and in all unprotected oceans.
On a lighter note…..My
neighbors at the “eco project Mono Feliz” have put up “NO
POACHING” signs on one of the beaches where I have been trying
to save the eggs before the Mono Feliz Clan, or the Mono Feliz dogs
can get them. As far as I know, they are still selling meals of endangered
and protected animals to their unsuspecting guests. I believe this clan
of poachers has been my biggest problem here in Panama.
Because I am on good terms
with the police, and I do not drink, traffic in narcotics, or use them,
a certain Clan has decided that I am a drug enforcement agent. Last
week my effigy, with “D.E.A.” painted on the chest and hat,
was hung from a tree in front of Mono Feliz and burnt over the beach.
In my life, I have probably had more than my share of unusual experiences,
but I believe this is the first time that I have been burnt in effigy.
I have to go and release
Until next time…………….Dave