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Meera Shamma 31 Jul 2017

Lebanese Conservationist Determined To Safeguard Lebanon’s Sea Turtles

The green turtle and the loggerhead turtle, endangered and classified as a vulnerable species respectively, are two species of sea turtle that choose Lebanon’s shores to breed. Turtles are a special kind of breeder, in that as adults, they return to the same shores where they were born to lay their own eggs.

These special turtles tend to return to the shores of Tyre for just that purpose, and they are exposed to a myriad of threats when they do. Newborn turtles are known to be one of the world’s most vulnerable types of baby animal, as the key to their survival is that they have an uninterrupted journey from the moment they crack out of their shell until they blindly stumble into their new home, the sea. After their frantic journey into the deep blue, the turtles have a much better chance of survival, immediately. They then disappear into the sea, and only resurface as ‘teenagers’, oftentimes in other parts of the world – but when they become mating adults, they will return to the sands they were born on to breed.

Thankfully, these endangered creatures have an array of fans in the country who aim to guarantee their survival. Mona Khalil, a 77-year-old Lebanese woman has vowed to protect Lebanon’s sea turtles since her founding of The Orange House Project in 2000. Founded in El Mansouri, The Orange House Project strives to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable sea turtle species from the harrowing threats of predators (humans included), pollution, and any threat of interception of their first journey from egg to sea.

With her long-studied professional skills in caring for turtles, Khalil skillfully relocates vulnerable turtle nests and installs metal barriers to protect them from predators, both animal and human. Khalil then raises newborn turtles by hand at her organization’s facilities – this year’s first batch of baby turtles were released back into the sea earlier this month. Khalil invites school children to attend the releases so that they can be educated and informed about the proper care for sea turtles found on Lebanese shores.

Should you come accross any sea turtles around Lebanon, be sure not to bother them, and consider contacting Khalil’s foundation by sending an email to orangehouseproject@gmail.com.