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The Canton of Jama (Manabi Province) steps in to help the fishing village of El Matal. (Ecuador)

The Canton of Jama (Manabi Province) steps in to help the fishing village of El Matal. (Ecuador)

(Ecuador) After a month in the USA and another five days searching for missing luggage, I reached home sweet Jama last week.  Before making that last five-kilometer trip to the riverhouse, I visited the fishing village of El Matal to photograph the changes in the beach. Instead of taking a quick ten-minute tour, I spent hours and juggled emotions that ranged from sadness to anger and also hope.

The photos need little explanation.

I bailed out of the collectivo pickup truck and began my walk on the lower end of the beach.

I bailed out of the collectivo pickup truck and began my walk on the lower end of the beach.

As always, the fishermen acknowledged my presence while preparing for the next outing.

As always, the fishermen politely acknowledged my presence while preparing for the next outing.

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After cleaning the catch, the fishermen (and women!) dump the fish remains at the water’s edge.

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After cleaning the catch, the fish remains are dumped at the edge of the ocean.

One sometimes forgets about the ocean's wrath wen surrounded by so many birds.

One sometimes forgets about the ocean’s wrath when surrounded by so many birds.

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After an overdose of bird watching, I began my customary beach walk.

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Many of the fishermen seemed more somber than usual.

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He seemed to enjoy the company of the greedy birds!

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How about grilled fresh fish of the day?

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These two worked in loving harmony and continued working while the gringa intruded with her camera.

These two worked in loving harmony and continued working while the gringa intruded with her camera.

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I recalled Daniel Santana’s warning (February 2014) that action should be taken immediately, and eight months later under a new mayor’s leadership, the municipality seems to have awakened.  Although some think the work will not be effective, it serves as a tourniquet to staunch the loss of the remaining beach.

I recalled how a few people publicly criticized those who sounded the alarm and called for help in January and February.   Reality soberly stared back in mid October, and the entire front line of properties bears serious wounds.  Could this truly be only an issue for a few property owners and their pools?

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Black plastic protects a double row of sand bags.

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Daniel Santana stressed in February that the over-sized sand bags would buy time until sand-building geo tubes could be approved, funded and installed.  Various organizations played hot potato with responsibility as each new and full moons brought another series of high tides.  The sand bagged area in front of Coco Beach Village halted the advance, while other areas continued to erode.

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In September, one property owner placed sand bags in front of his restaurant.  The effort was effective, though about a ten-foot section washed away on each end of the bags, true to Danie Santana’s prediction.   (See Beach Loss Reaches Critical Status)  The sandbags did indeed slow the waves’ destruction, and now the municipality is working diligently to protect a much-larger strip of beach.

For a glimpse of how this beach looked in 2010, go to 1:05 on this youtube video of El Matal.

The fishermen land their boats on available sections of the beach while the municipality advances with sandbags, lastre and rocks.  Will the fishermen anchor their boats in the water after the entire long wall is finished?

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Heavy equipment works on the middle section of the beach while the sand-bag project from earlier in the year continues to protect the upper end.
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We can hope that the community will continue to show a united front so that the beach can heal and the normal rhythms will resume.

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Thanks to all of you who have shown concern and have shared links to solutions from other areas of the world.

Z

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