Marine Turtles. What Are They Good For? Absolutely Everything

This article was first published on the 18th of August, 2015, on LBCI.com | Link 

In the wake of the agonizing video [above] that had gone viral on social media platforms, depicting beachgoers in Tyre manhandling a sea turtle that had mistakenly come to shore -probably to lay eggs- I thought I would compile a list to highlight the importance of the glorious marine animal, now on the endangered species list.

So what are marine turtles good for? Absolutely everything, but here are the top 5 reasons, according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy organization.

– Coastal dune ecosystems rely on the nutrients deposited by sea turtles that come to shore during the warm seasons to nest. The turtle in the video was probably a female attempting to do just that, but was unfortunately manhandled instead and used as a push and pedal toy. Sea turtles use sandy beaches to lay around 100 eggs per nest, 3-7 nests per season. Not all will hatch and not all hatchlings will make it out, thus becoming the much needed nutrients for beach vegetation which in turn prevents beach erosion.
– As the vegetation becomes stronger -thanks to the nutrients deposited by turtles- the health of the entire beach ecosystem becomes stronger. If sea turtles go extinct, dune vegetation would lose a major source of nutrients and would neither be healthy nor strong enough to maintain the dunes, allowing beaches to wash away.

– Sea turtles eat jellyfish, preventing the reproduction of large blooms of stinging jellyfish – that are increasingly wreaking havoc on fisheries, recreation and other maritime activities throughout the oceans.

– Sea turtles are keystone species. Without them, the health of sea grass beds – which in turn provide breeding and developmental grounds for many species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans – deteriorates. The reactions could result in the decline of several marine animals dependent on sea grass beds for survival.

– If sea turtles go extinct, the entire health of the ecosystem will be affected because if one goes, the rest (including us) will follow.

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Photos and video courtesy of The Orange House project

“Human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered. Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and over-exploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear. Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites. It alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings.”- WWF

It is absolutely vital that the municipally of Tyre create awareness raising campaigns to further educate the people and beachgoers on the importance of sea turtles and all marine animals. Placing signs on the beach will also help. Complaining will only take us so far and blaming a government so weak it is unable to forge solutions to the waste management crisis grappling the country, we are left with only one option: calling on municipalities and NGO’s to create programs and projects that would educate the people.

Furthermore, the Orange House Project is also doing wonders in terms of marine turtle conservation in Lebanon’s Mansouri region. Check their page and see how you can help.

And speaking of the waste management crisis, this is what would happen if garbage is dumped at sea.