Highlights from the SALALM Conference

WESS Newsletter

Fall 2012, Vol. 36, No. 1

I recently attended the SALALM LVII Conference, which was held June 16-19, 2012 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The theme of the conference was ‘Popular Culture: Arts and Social Change in Latin America.’ Although I couldn’t stay at the conference long enough to attend the panels, I attended several committee meetings at the beginning of the conference.

LAMP (formerly the Latin American Microform Project) met Saturday evening and discussed its recently completed projects and approved funding for new projects. Recently completed projects include the digitization of the Puerto Rican Civil Court Cases Collection (1844-1900) and the acquisition of microfilm of early 20th century issues of the newspapers El Mercurio (Chile) and La Nacion (Argentina). LAMP is also supporting the digitization in Brazil of the Nunca Mais collection. At its meeting in Trinidad, LAMP approved funding to digitize 19th century issues of Diario de Pernambuco (Brazil) held at the University of Florida and a project to microfilm rare 19th century Bolivian newspapers held at the University of Connecticut.

The Latin Americanist Research Resources Project (LARRP) met Sunday morning of the conference and celebrated its recent success in negotiating favorable pricing for its members for Classic Mexican Cinema Online, reviewed some of its ongoing projects, such as the Distributed Resources Project and the Latin American Open Archives Portal, and discussed new directions for future projects.

Before I left Trinidad, I was able to squeeze in a visit to the leatherback sea turtle nesting grounds on the east side of the island, near Matura. Female sea turtles come ashore at night to dig nests in the sand and lay their eggs. The nesting season for leatherbacks in Trinidad is March through August and the eggs hatch after about two months. The temperature of the sand influences the gender of the baby turtles. As the guide told our group, “Hot chicks, cool guys.” Leatherbacks are the only living members in the family Dermochelyidae, and have many unique physiological features that differentiate them from other sea turtles, including the leatherbacks’ lack of a bony shell, ability to maintain high body temperature, and ability to dive to ocean depths of about 4,000 feet. Sea turtles are endangered, and are often accidentally killed by commercial fishing efforts or by ingesting balloons and plastic bags that they mistake for jellyfish, their main source of food.

Our group saw a nesting sea turtle that was about five feet long and weighed an estimated 700 pounds. We came upon her when she was already in the process of laying her eggs and then we watched her cover the eggs and camouflage the nest. It was an amazing experience to be able to see this unique creature up close.

Judy Alspach with sea turtle

Judy Alspach
Project Coordinator, Global Resources Network