Photo courtesy of Richard Jackson

Sea Turtles Nesting Throughout Bay of Loreto National Park

As we reported last month, Eco-Alianza supporters have made possible the continuation of a program to protect and monitor the nests of the marine park’s Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas). As of “press time,” Sea Turtle nest monitors have documented and protected 28 nests on nine beaches, including La Pinta, Oasis, Salinitas, Nopoló, Juncalito, El Taste, Ligui, Estero Las Lisas, and Ensenada Blanca.

A 24/7 Loreto Sea Turtle Hotline number is now active, to be used by anyone seeing a Sea Turtle on any beach in the Bay of Loreto National Park, or anyone discovering a fresh Sea Turtle “crawl,” where it’s apparent that a Sea Turtle has crawled out of the sea, nested, covered the nest, and returned to the sea. The number to call is 613-14-06478, day or night. Never use flashlights around Sea Turtles, as they are easily scared by lights and may abandon their nesting site if frightened, but please call to report any Sea Turtle on land.

Staff photo
Sea Turtle monitors (brown hats) met with Eco-Alianza’s Maria Quintero (left), Park Biologist Mariana Salgado (white shirt), and Park Director Israel Popoca (far right) to discuss the monitoring project.

Nesting season typically continues into December, and there is a need for volunteer beach monitors in Loreto Bay. If you are an “early bird” who walks the Loreto Bay beaches on a regular basis early in the morning, please consider signing up for some specific days, or even one or more days each week.

The “job” is to walk the Loreto Bay beach from the resort hotel towards Loreto, as far as you’re willing. If you discover a “crawl,” (or a turtle on land) you’ll call the hotline number to report the nest, and a Park biologist will follow up. It’s important to report nests as quickly as possible to prevent nest predation. Additionally, biologists sometimes have to move nests that are laid in unsuitable locations; in these instances, they must move the eggs within 12 hours of being laid.

For more information, send an email with subject line “Possible Turtle Volunteer” to Edna.Peralta@ecoalianzaloreto.net .

Eco-Alianza Joins Half Marathon/21K as an Event Sponsor

Photos courtesy of Juan Carlos Cortes Virgen

When runners, joggers, and walkers convene on November 11 for the 3rd annual Loreto Half Marathon (21K/10K/5K/2.5K), the event itself will take some significant strides towards becoming more eco-friendly. Norma Garcia, President of the Loreto Hotel Association and also the organizer of the event, said recently that over the past year she’s had offers from some major corporations to underwrite nearly the entire cost of the event, but that they just weren’t the right fit.

“It is important for us that this event matches the community consensus of “LoretoIdeal,” – clean, healthy, ecological, and family friendly,” she said. “Being sponsored by soft drink companies or beer companies just didn’t feel right, so we declined” and looked elsewhere. The state trust for tourism signed on as a Sponsor, as did several other entities. Since Norma also serves on the Board of Directors of Eco-Alianza, she was elated when the organization agreed to sign on as a Sponsor and to work with the Hotel Association and event organizers to transition the event over the next few years into a “Zero Waste” operation.

Hugo Quintero, Executive President of Eco-Alianza, states that the effort is in line with several other Eco-Alianza projects and programs that are in the planning stages. “Zero Waste” is a concept whose time has come,” Hugo says, because Loreto’s solid waste issue impacts the marine park, the environment in general, human health, and Loreto’s reputation as an exceptionally clean town. “Zero Waste” isn’t simply improving recycling, he said, but is an entirely different way of thinking about our footprint as a species. For more information, he recommends reading the definition established by the Zero Waste International Alliance. http://zwia.org/standards/zw-definition/

Norma says that turning the Half Marathon into a “Zero Waste” event will certainly be a multi-year process, but that several logistical changes already are being incorporated into this November’s event. She and her team decided for this year to focus on entirely eliminating bottled water and plastic bags, from the entrance of town to the finish line. Additionally, the restaurants that are setting up booths will cooperate as much as possible. Eco-Alianza will help organize organic waste containers and recycling containers in the finish line area where families gather, and will have volunteers on hand to ensure that items go into the proper containers.

There will be a limited number of Eco-Alianza reusable shopping bags and aluminum water bottles for sale to benefit “Zero Waste” initiatives, so we recommend that participants and friends bring their own refillable water bottles. There will be filling stations along the route, staffed by volunteers.

During the first two half marathons, runners and walkers in town and along the Malecon were given bottled water, and fruit in plastic bags in the finish line area. This year the water will be in paper cups and the fruit will be served on trays without packaging. Several additional steps also will be taken, she said, and next year more “Zero Waste” concepts will be integrated into the planning process from day one. “For this year,” Norma said, “I’m using the expression “Hacía un Medio Maratón SIN HUELLA” (which translates roughly to “on the way to a Zero footprint Half Marathon.”)

For an event that draws 500 to 600 runners (or possibly more) each year, as well as many of their families, the reduction of solid waste should be significant, as will the positive impact on Loreto’s eco-tourism reputation. Los Cabos and La Paz are the main source of runners and running teams, Norma said, but many also come from Ensenada, Tijuana, Durango, and literally around the world.

For example, this year Caryl Cantrell, a leader of the Loreto/Ventura Sister City Committee, will be visiting from Ventura, CA, and running to raise funds for Sister Cities Cultural Exchange projects. To donate, visit www.tmre.org, click the donate link and scroll to Ventura/Loreto Sister Cities.

For event registration information: https://www.vamosaloreto.com/events/

Loretanos Take Part in Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day

Staff photo
Clean beaches make for good friendships.

Being part of a large, worthwhile effort often results in strong feelings of unity and purpose – just what participants in the Coastal Cleanup of Loreto’s Salinitas Beach experienced on September 14.

Eco-Alianza/Loreto Coastkeeper, serving as a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, signed up more than 50 adults and 25 children to take part in the annual International Coastal Cleanup – a wordwide event organized by Ocean Conservancy.

School children, families, representatives of several #LoretoIdeal organizations, and friends of Eco-Alianza collected plastic bottles, bottletops, cigarette butts, and a wide variety of litter left by beach-goers. In all, 1120 items were collected at Salinitas and carefully documented as a local contribution to the worldwide cleanup campaign. The efforts result not only in cleaner beaches, but also in data on ocean and coastal pollution that is later analyzed in detail.

Staff photo
Gerardo Rodas documents items of litter cleaned up at the event.

Compared to some of the more polluted urban beaches around the world, the results of the Salinitas cleanup were relatively modest – 20 kilograms of trash that had been scattered along 2.5 kilometers of beachfront. Just as important, though, were the bonds of companionship that were strengthened as children and families and community leaders shared their respect for our coastline.

For a fascinating data summary of all the trash collected wordwide, including a breakdown of each cleanup site, visit http://www.coastalcleanupdata.org/

Photo Courtesy of Erik Cutter – Baja Life and Staff photo

As we report on positive environmental news in Loreto, we can’t help but be reminded that 10 years ago, shortly after its beginning, Eco-Alianza was shocked by the unexpected passing of one of its four founders. The three surviving founders chose to take this opportunity to reminisce a bit, and honor Javier Mercado.

“2008 was a year of deep sadness for us at Eco-Alianza, marked by the tragic death of our good friend, and founding member Javier Mercado. His love of life and family made him a joy to be with. He possessed incredible integrity, was a loyal friend and an honorable man who valued his many friendships. A highly respected leader in the community of Loreto, Javier taught marketing and tourism at the Universidad de Baja California Sur’s Loreto campus. He enjoyed giving the youth of Loreto an education with a promise. Rest in peace, dear friend.”
– Hugo Quintero, Eco-Alianza co-Founder and Executive President

“Javier loved the natural environment but working in real estate development and raising a family did not allow him a lot of time to get out of his office. Several times I took him and his son, Javi Jr., fishing and we had the most wonderful times together showing Javi Jr. the wonders that existed on the water. I remember Javier hugging me and thanking me for some of the best moments he and his son had ever experienced during whales breaching at sunrise while on my boat just off Juncalito…He said, this is truly, “Baja Life!” I will always cherish Javier’s dry sense of humor and his love and respect for the natural world.”
– Erik Cutter, Eco-Alianza co-Founder

“Javier was there for us when we founded Eco-Alianza almost eleven years ago. He was a true friend and wanted to help preserve the future of Loreto, strongly supporting the mission of Eco-Alianza. Javier loved his family, his friends, and the outdoors and he loved the idea of Eco-Alianza, the Loreto Eco-Alliance.

Javier used his excellent business skills as our first administrator even before we had an Executive Director. His contribution and passion to be a part of something new, memorable, life changing and sustainable was at the forefront of Javier’s mind. He knew the time was right.
In Javier’s memory, we established the Javier Mercado Scholarship, which is an ongoing annual scholarship at UABCS Loreto Campus to benefit the student(s) who have achieved the highest academic excellence. The additional scholarship requirement of community service exemplifies Javier’s generosity to the students at the University where he helped outstanding students achieve their goals, both financially and intellectually.

We loved Javier and have missed his friendship, humor and work ethic that was an example to all the students he sponsored and mentored. Rest in peace, our dear friend.”
– Linda Kinninger, Eco-Alianza co-Founder and Treasurer, and Tony Kinninger, Eco-Alianza Advisory Board Member

Loreto Environmental Educators Network (REAL) Celebrates Three Years of Success

Staff photo
Members of REAL meet monthly to plan activities.

Three years ago this month, Eco-Alianza invited Loreto’s environmental educators to discuss forming a support group to promote environmental education in Loreto, as well as to encourage environmental teacher trainings, workshops, and activities to support professional development among environmental educators.

When the first meeting convened in 2015, more than 30 invited teachers attended, according to Alma Rico, who is now an environmental educator at Eco-Alianza, as well as an active member and a leader of the Red de Educadores Ambientales de Loreto (REAL) network.

After a few meetings, the group became a working core of about 17 founding members, mostly teachers at elementary, middle, and high schools in Loreto, Alma says. “They worked assiduously to write mission, vision, objectives, and everything involved in the project.” Three years later, the group maintains roughly the same size, and holds active monthly meetings to discuss activities and the future of the organization. They include not only teachers but also citizens and people committed to Environmental Education, as doctors and business owners.

Staff photo
REAL members visited cultural and natural sites in Puebla.

Together they have participated in numerous field trips to the islands in the marine park, held workshops for teachers and the community at large, engaged in advocacy campaigns on social media and in person to promote environmental issues, participated in, and encouraged schools and students to participate in, beach cleanups and recycling campaigns, and raised funds by selling metal straws, keychains, and holding garage sales. In general, they have quietly become environmental leaders and advocates.

At the invitation of the city of Puebla, six members of REAL this summer visited the city for a week, discussing with city leaders the purpose and activities of REAL, and sharing ideas and teaching resources with local educators. While there, they also took the opportunity to visit natural and cultural sites to expand their base of scientific, environmental, and cultural knowledge.

Staff photo
REAL members learned about medicinal plants at the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve.

It’s difficult in a short article to capture fully the spirit and commitment of REAL’s members, but a jaunt through the group’s Facebook page offers a glimpse into the wide variety of activities and ecological subjects in which they are interested and involved. Here’s to the next three years of REAL!

First Shipment of Bottletops Sent To Aid Children with Cancer

Staff photo
More than 250 pounds of bottletops, boxed up and ready to go!

As reported in the June Soundings, Eco-Alianza is now an official dropoff site for the Alliance Against Childhood Cancer, which collects plastic bottletops, sells them to be recycled, and uses the money to aid Mexican children who have been diagnosed with cancer. Not only does this keep plastic bottletops out of the dump and out of the ocean, it also makes recycling plastic bottles more efficient, because the tops are made of a different type of plastic and generally must be separated anyway.

Despite Eco-Alianza’s collection efforts beginning in the “slow” season, our first shipment last month included five large boxes containing more than 250 pounds (116 kg.) of bottletops. Bring your bottletops and deposit them in the container in Eco-Alianza’s lobby any weekday morning after 9. For more details visit the Alianza Anticancer Infantil website and Facebook page.

“Nature Notes” is a monthly short feature detailing some of the wondrous, seasonal activities taking place around us.

Photos courtesy of Tom Haglund/BCS Birds
Photos from top left, clockwise:
Western Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exile) looking to stick an egg on purslane.
Ceraunus Blue (Leptotes cassius) larger than the Pygmy Blue, but no larger than my thumbnail.
Silver-banded Hairstreak (Chlorostrymon simaethis) about the size of the Ceraunus Blue.
Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus) a bit larger yet, but still in that thumbnail range.

By Tom Haglund

Snow — most of us have seen it; it can be lovely. Some of us have even had the good luck to have seen a single flake through a microscope. That is the very essence of snow, magnified large enough to dazzle us with the exquisite perfection of its crystalline structure. Once seen, this view will not leave us. When we see snow after having so intensely seen it, we will never see just plain old snow again.

Nature is loaded with similar experiences — where we think we know something and then discover that there is infinitely more to it than we had imagined. Around here there are many plants with tiny blossoms that are very easy to miss as we dash about our lives. Slow down a bit and really take a close look, and you may arrive at a level of appreciation you couldn’t have imagined.

There are ground covers, shrubs, and vines everywhere in BCS that can take us to this amazing tiny place. There are perfect little red rose look-alikes and dainty lavender aster mimics, each less than five millimeters across. There are fiddlenecks of white, pompoms of yellow, sprays of pink, bonnets of scarlet; mostly so small as to be visible only to the close and unhurried eye.

Now, while you’re all slowed down and starting to see these wee blooming marvels, you can’t very well miss the incredibly beautiful miniscule butterflies that are laying eggs, feeding on nectar, and spreading pollen among them. What you may have been seeing as just fluttery little gray things turn out to be full grown butterflies as sparkly and colorful as any of the big ones that are so obvious because of their greater size. A patch of purslane no bigger than a beach towel may harbor scores of Western Pygmy Blues, the smallest of the small and about the width of my thumbnail from wingtip to wingtip. Once you know they’re here and what they look like, you may not see them as just uninteresting small blurs anymore.

Eco-Alianza Happenings