The Hakel fish layers have been defined as Cenomanian V, 95 Million years. The limestone is well stratified. The strata are variable inclined downward from 25 to 50 degrees to the West, but inclination is highly variable both in angle and direction; in addition, stratification is very irregular, as many micro-faults are present, and curved strata are often present.
Chert is present in lenses and nodules, varying from few centimeters to 50 cm or more in diameter without concentric structure, often of irregular shape. The thickness of lamination is also variable from a few millimeters to 50 cm. the thickest strata are usually sterile. The color is also impressively variable from a pallid yellow to a brown-beige, to grey to near black.
The limestone of this restricted area probably represents one of the richest deposits of fossil fish in the world. Mass mortality layers are relatively frequent; multiple fish slabs are regularly found in this locality. It is impossible to obtain very large slabs because the laminations of the richest strata are distorted and cherty deposits are frequent.
Fish are the most common fossils, but crustaceans are also frequent. Plants and echinoderms are also present as rare finds. Bits and pieces of fossils are often seen in different layers at the edges of blocks which are not cut square.
The oldest written evidence about the Lebanese fossils dates back to the 4th century AC. Eusebe de Césarée, Bishop of Palestine, evokes these stones and considers them as the witnesses of Noah’s deluge.
The most famous mention of these sites is probably in 1248, where it is mentioned in the journal of one Sire de Joinville, a traveling companion of Louis IX, that during the king’s stay in Sidon , a stone containing “the shape of a sea fish” was presented to him. Later, numerous studies: French, Italian, German and American followed to publish scientific papers about the quarry and some of the species discovered.
Fish Fossils Museum and Shops:
In Haqel two main shops and museums welcome the visitors:
The collection and carries of Rizkallah Nohra: Hakel Museum
Established in 1991, the Haqel Museum is the first natural history museum dedicated to marine fossils in Lebanon. The museum is located in a Traditional Lebanese village house, restored by Mr. Nohra. You can walk toward the museum, participate in extracting fossils, and then have lunch in the museum open air restaurant and purchase fossils at the museum. Mrs. Bernadette Nohra: (79/154 725);
The collection of Charbel and Linda Nohra: Haklany Fish fossils
Visitors can buy fish fossils and admire the collections in the shop. Visits to the quarry can be organized as well, year-round, except in bad weather. A 15-minute walk is necessary to reach the site of the quarry.
Mrs. Linda Nohra (03/604 969 – 09/ 770 428)