For millennia, sea turtles have swum ashore every summer to lay their eggs on beaches in what is now southern Lebanon. After incubation, the hatchlings race across the sand from their nests to the sea at night. A chance encounter with a sea turtle one night in 1999 inspired Mona Khalil to create the conservation project at Mansouri and Qoleileh that is unique in Lebanon.
Mona, then living in the Netherlands, had returned to Lebanon to visit her family’s beachfront farm. One moonless night, she was amazed to spy a green turtle laying eggs on the beach – and when she discovered that turtles were in danger of vanishing from Lebanon, she immediately knew what she would do when she came back to live there.
Imagine a history dating back 100 million years, the story of an animal that has succeeded where the almighty dinosaurs failed: survive, despite climate changes. Today, a greater threat to the turtle, a danger that was not intended by nature: the destructive hand of man. In Lebanon, it was barely mentioned until the day when a woman met them by chance on a beach in the South. Her life was transformed, she was committed to their cause. Meeting with Mona el Khalil and her protected fragiles.
The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) are two endangered species that lay their eggs on Lebanon’s beaches. (read more about them here) After they’ve hatched and begun their solitary journey in the ocean, female turtles return to the same shore they were born in after about 25 years to nest their eggs. The alteration of those sites modifies the turtles’ birth rate behaviors drastically… noting that a decrease in the population could lead to an imbalance in the marine ecosystem.
Hosting 80 nests in 2006 and only 30 in 2013, this reserve needs our help because as bad as it is, local investors want to turn it into yet again another useless private resort. Let’s fight for Al Mansouri beach and let’s save the last turtle sanctuary in Southern Lebanon.
It is very important to understand that by trying to protect this we are not trying to save our natural resources or what is ours, but what is for the planet itself. These beaches are merely even ours, they are a home for species that are beyond us humans.