(right, Mona Khalil and friend)
Throughout their 150 million years on earth, life has never been easy for individual sea turtles. Perhaps one in every couple thousand survived to breeding age. There have always been the hazards of predators, disease, and unlucky weather – the drivers of evolution, the producers, if you will, of the species we see now.
Recently the odds have gotten considerably worse. Abrupt, radical change in the environment has overwhelmed even the miraculous adaptive potential latent in the genome.
Worldwide, sea turtle populations are crashing thanks to drift nets, (illegal) intentional as well as accidental long line fishing, the loss of sea grass beds to pollution and other anthropegenic factors, loss of suitable nesting habitat to beachfront development, and simple overexploitation as a food resource.
Global warming threatens to exacerbate the problems of disappearing habitat and food, and may deliver a killing blow directly. Sea turtles’ gender is not fixed genetically but determined by the temperature of the eggs.Their reproductive cycle is also extemely vulnerable to rising temperatures.
Everyone has to live somewhere. But the turtle populations driven by thousands of years of instinct to nest on the southern coast of Lebanon would seem to have drawn an awfully unlucky hand.
They actually fared pretty well under Israeli occupation. Night patrols kept the beaches empty during turtle prime time.Hezbollah on hand to help baby sea turtles
MEDASSET the Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtle
temperature change sex ratio
loss of sea beds
foxes, themselves internally displaced residents of Lebanon, driven out of the hills by last year’s bombing raids.
even a misplaced soccer field
to stir shit title it Hezbollah the protector or some such
Besides her regular duties of patrolling the beach, moving nests from unsafe areas and protecting them with wires shields, Mona Khalil has in her time taken on UN peacekeepers and made them change both their littering habits and the Fijian contingent’s practice of buying turtles on the black market for dinner. She has run off Hezbollah guerillas using her beach as a base during the war, and repaired the damage to her home by Israeli rockets.
The beach itelf is now partitioned between armed factions. Hezbollah, which controls half, has declared the turtles, and one hopes Ms. Khalil as well, under its protection.
For this, and for nothing else, I salute Hezbollah.