A rare seal turned up to rest on a beach in central Israel, in an unprecedented sighting on Friday.
The threatened Mediterranean Monk Seal was estimated to be a female, around three or five years old, the Nature and Parks Authority said in a statement. As of Saturday, she remained on the beach.
The mammal did not appear to be in distress, the authority said. They deployed volunteers to ensure she was not disturbed while she rested and urged the public to maintain their distance.
Guy Levian, of the Nature and Parks Authority, said it was the first time a seal had been observed resting on the shore in Israel. In 2010, a seal was observed for the first time riding waves close to the beach in Herzliya, but it did not make landfall.
כלבת הים שהופיעה אתמול החוף במרכז עדיין נחה על החול. לפי המומחים אין עדות למצוקה של היונקת. מתנדבי רשות הטבע ועמותת דלפיס נמצאים בחוף ומשגיחים. הופעה של כלב ים אצלנו – ארוע נדיר ביותר. ומשמח מאוד
צילום: ד"ר אביעד שיינין, דלפיס pic.twitter.com/k7eOLSjJa2
— Guy Cotev גיא קוטב (@guycotev) May 13, 2023
“We are guarding the seal so nobody approaches and disturbs her until she returns to the sea. This is a protected marine mammal that must not be harmed,” he said.
“I was passing by while riding my bike, and I thought it was a dolphin,” said Avi Benson, who spotted the animal. “After I got closer I saw a seal coming in and out of the water. I thought it was injured until she got to the beach to rest. I called the police and from there they transferred me to the Nature and Parks Authority, who arrived quickly.”
According to marine protection groups, the Mediterranean Monk Seal is an endangered species, with only 600-700 individuals in existence in the Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea, and northeastern Atlantic Ocean.