Having been dragged out onto the sand for thepure and simple entertainment of beach-goers, the turtle was mistreated again and again over the course of the nightmare afternoon.The environmentalist organisation Green Areahave many photos of the revolting events: you can see people touching the animal and posing next to him to take photos. What's worse is that a child was placed on top of the turtleby his father and trampled all over him, egged on by the crowd.
The photos speak for themselves, but Jason Mier, director of the organisation Animals Lebanon, reveals that witnesses also saw people hitting the turtle with a stick. Luckily for the turtle, some had the initiative to rescue the injured animal and took him to a quieter place, far away from the noise of the crowd.
Animals Lebanon is one of the organisations who contributed to the medical costs of taking care of the turtle. Jason Mier says:
There's an obvious mark on the turtle's head from where he was hit. There is a very visible hole on his head, where the bone has been damaged to the point that the water is starting to come in. When you put pressure on this part, you can see the water escaping.
The turtle's physical condition is testament to his suffering on this day. The animal is now in a rehabilitation centre run by the organisation, where he is recovering in a special pool and receiving a course of antibiotics. The vets estimate a recovery time of 15 days.
Jason Miers explains that the concept of animal rights is basically nonexistent in Lebanon, but he has noticed a recent change in morals. So even though this turtle was horribly mistreated by the crowds, Miers rejoices in the fact that there were some who didn't ignore his suffering and came to his aid.
However, this is far from the first time that the organisation has come to the rescue of turtles. Just one month before, the volunteers at Animals Lebanon discovered multiple dead turtles on a beach in Sidon in southern Beirut.
Sea turtles are vital to the region's ecosystem since they feed off mainly jellyfish. Without turtles, the number of jellyfish would rise and cause the fish population to drop significantly, as they are eaten by jellyfish. The entire balance would be thrown into disorder if there were fewer fish. If we don't protect these turtles, the decrease in the population and its potential extinction could have serious effects to the biological balance and sealife of the area.
Encouraged by animal rights and environmental organisations, the inauguration of "National Sea Turtle Day" in Lebanon on May 5 every year shows that the government is finally willing to raise awareness about the importance of conservation.