There’s a new stories about a “rare giant sea turtle” being caught and eaten in the Gaza Strip going around now. I dug up a video for it and it’s definitely a leatherback so I figured I’d throw in my two cents since I just posted about leatherback turtles.
Here’s the video. Sorry if there’s an advertisement in front of it. I’m not making anything from it but it was the only source I could find. They do show the turtle being killed so it’s not really fun to watch.
A few corrections to the video first, it’s not “thought” to be a leatherback. There’s no mistaking a leatherback for any other turtle. That’s a leatherback. The fisherman says it’s 600-700 kilograms. I’m never good at estimating weights but the biggest one weighed in Canada so far was just a bit above 600 kilograms and that one looks on the small side so probably less than 400 kilograms (still a big animal though).
I thought it was odd they were talking about eating the meat since I’d often heard that leatherback flesh is poisonous but I can’t find a good citation for that and there do seem to be substinence fisheries for them so I guess leatherbacks are either edible or only occasionally poisonous. Also, I’d heard of people eating the eggs for ‘viagra’ effects but never the blood or the whole ailing children thing. I’m not sure what conditions are like in Gaza but if they’re not killing the turtle for necessary food, it really seem like a shame to kill an endangered species for bogus penis enhancement.
Also the fisherman says the turtle ruined a bunch of fishing gear. This is actually a common problem with leatherbacks. They don’t seem to have a way to reverse directions. So if they run into a net or even a loose rope in the water, they can easily become entangled. This can often end badly when the loops get caught around their neck and choke them or the tide rises while the ropes hold them underwater (or people decide to drag the turtle ashore and drink its blood to improve their sex lives).
In more encouraging news, the Reuters article ends with this:
A smaller Leatherback was caught off the Gaza coast last month but the turtle was released after fishermen discovered it carried a tag classifying it as an endangered species.
Thanks to William F. Landell for pointing this story out in the comments.