Saturday 5 September 2020

Record number of Turtle nests on Al-Mansouri Beach, Lebanon.

A record number of Turtles have been observed nesting on Al-Mansouri Beach, Lebanon, this year, with a total of 20 Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, and 16 Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, nests observed by volunteers. The coasts of Lebanon were once important breeding grounds for turtles, but coastal developments have excluded them from many areas. Even the beach at Al-Mansouri, which is in theory protected, has been disturbed by the development of the Palagio Beach Resort, which has brought tourists and light polution to the area. Bright lights are a particular problem for hatchling Turtles, as they emerge at noght and find their way to the sea by following starlight, which reflects from the sea but not the land, and have been observed crawling up beaches towards tourist developments, which makes them highly vulnerable to predators. However, this year the tourist industry in Lebanon, as in many other countries, has been badly hit by the Coronovirus epidemic, with people staying away from large tourist complexes, which has been bad news for the local economy, and the people whose livelihoods depend on the industry, but has given Turtles a rare opportunity to reclaim breeding grounds.

Hatchling Turtles emerging on Al-Mansouri Beach, Lebanon. Yara Khasab/Orange House Project.

The Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, is found throughout the tropics, but are considered to be Endangered under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, due both to loss of breeding grounds and vulnerability to a wide range of fishing techniques. The species favours flat, sandy beaches on warm coasts as a nesting site, which is also the environment favoured by the tourist industry for new developments, creating a direct conflict between the industry and efforts to conserve the species, making nesting sites in areas without extensive tourist developments particularly vulnerable. These Turtles are also highly vulnerable to the fishing industry, easily becoming entangled in nets, where they typically drown rapidly, as well as often taking bait on long lines, which also typically leads to rapid drowning.Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas,

Green Turtles, Chelonia mydas. Mark Sullivan/NOAA/Animal Fact Guide.

The Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, are considered to be Vulnerable under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, as they are at risk from the same pressures as other Turtles, and have suffered some population declines, but are not immediately at risk. This is largely due to their more rapid breeding cycle, with females able to produce 3-6 clutches of eggs per year. There are currently 36 000-67 000 breeding female Loggerhead Turtles at 135 known breeding sites globally.

A Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, swims above endemic Seagrass, Posidonia oceanica, in the Mediterranean Sea. Kostas Papafitsoros/The State of the World's Sea Turtles.

See also...

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.