Tag Archives: Environment

The Schizophrenic River

By Marcia Chaiken and Jan Chaiken

The current focus of Republican candidates in this U.S. presidential election year on the border between the U.S. and Mexico is nothing new. Ever since the mid-1800s when the Mexican state of Texas declared itself independent from Mexico and 10 years later was annexed by the U.S., border issues have led to such craziness that it literally drove a river schizophrenic. Continue reading The Schizophrenic River

Rio Copalita and River Restoration in Mexico

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.42.37 AMBy Julie Etra

This column addresses three not so disparate subjects, the ecology and current status of the Copalita River, general problems with rivers in Mexico, and status of river restoration projects in the country. Continue reading Rio Copalita and River Restoration in Mexico

Top-Down, Bottom-Up, Sideways: How Best to Conserve Mexico’s Rivers?

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.42.23 AMBy Deborah Van Hoewyk

Elsewhere in this issue, Julie Etra reports on the devastating effects of private “rock mining” on the Copalita River, said rocks then being crushed into gravel and sold, apparently for construction of luxury homes and hotels in the Huatulco resort area.   The private operation has a permit from the local office of Conagua (the national water commission), which is a sub-agency of SEMARNAT (Mexico’s department of environment and natural resources), plus the “complacency” of the municipal president of San Miguel del Puerto, in which the operation is located. Continue reading Top-Down, Bottom-Up, Sideways: How Best to Conserve Mexico’s Rivers?

Bamboo: Sustainable Super Grass

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 11.00.05 AM.pngBy Kary Vannice

I’m sure you remember that children’s story about the three little pigs. The one where the wolf huffs and puffs and blows their straw house down. Well, no offense to the pigs, but they used the wrong grass! There is, in fact, a grass that is just as structurally strong as the brick house that fended off that nasty wolf.

You’re probably wondering in what crazy science lab they are cooking up this new super-grass. But humans have been building structures out of it for centuries. Continue reading Bamboo: Sustainable Super Grass

Comité Rio Copalita Defends Its River

By Julie Etra

On November 29, 2015, the Comité Rio Copalita held a fund raising and awareness benefit to highlight the destruction of a reach of the river that flows through their community. Three sand and gravel contractors are dredging the river between the pueblo and the northern boundary of the Parque Eco-Arqueológico Copaalita, apparently without any permits and with no environmental oversight by government agencies charged with environmental protection agency (La Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente, PROFEPA) or overseeing natural resources (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, SEMARNAT). Continue reading Comité Rio Copalita Defends Its River

Don’t Let the Smoke Get in Your Eyes

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 6.32.32 AMBy Geri Anderson

I knew this was going to be a different kind of day when Aome and I squashed into a four-seater pickup truck with three young engineering students from IBERO University in Mexico City. At our first stop out of town, I watched as Oaxacan workmen with muddy feet and bulging muscles sloshed through the brickyard emptying buckets of sand and dirt into the pickup. The university guys added armfuls of bricks to the truck’s load, which already included lengths of PVC tubing and shiny aluminum piping, some elbow shaped for chimneys. Continue reading Don’t Let the Smoke Get in Your Eyes

Canicula, Mar de Fondo, and other weather phenomena

By Julie Etra

Canicula, canicular period, canicular days or the season of canicula refers to the hottest part of the year. My neighbor Larry Woelfel and I were chatting about the lack of rain and heat this summer in Huatulco and he exclaimed, “Canicula! Look it up, Julie!” Easy assignment for this lover of language and etymology. The Latin root of the word is canis, or dog and is a 14th century Old English word pertaining to the dogstar Sirius. It also pertains to dog days, or the dog days of summer, common in English-lingo. The canicular period lasts four to six weeks, depending on precise location relative to the equator and declination of the sun. Technically it begins when at midday or noon the sun is at its maximum height over the horizon. Continue reading Canicula, Mar de Fondo, and other weather phenomena

Artificial Reefs

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 4.44.42 PMBy Julie Etra

According to Carlos Candelaria Silva, a science investigator at UNAM, Mexico City, Huatulco’s reefs have deteriorated due to pollution and tourism, especially at La Entrega and San Augustin. Although the Oaxacan coast does not have a barrier reef like Australia, and Mexico/Belize/Honduras, the smaller reef systems are precious ecosystems. They are the ‘nurseries’ where reproduction of hundreds of species occurs. I have not been back to La Entrega since we first came to Huatulco in 2007, and from the overuse it gets, I am sure I would be depressed by the extent of its damage.

Continue reading Artificial Reefs

Floating Death Traps: A Call for Regulation of Panga Longlining

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 4.45.00 PMBy George Hurchalla

On a recent fishing trip thirty miles offshore, some friends of mine and I came across a tragic sight which has become all too common in recent years. What I took initially to be one flagged end of a panga longline, what the locals call a “simbra,” was in fact a drifting abandoned longline, with turtles choking in the tangled mess of cord, buoys, and hooks. While I have on a number of occasions freed turtles from various entanglements, some involving small bunches of broken-off longline cord, I had never encountered the disaster of a complete abandoned longline before. They are floating death traps, wrapping up turtle after turtle in their tangled mess. Continue reading Floating Death Traps: A Call for Regulation of Panga Longlining