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Dazzling undersea array found off Tel Aviv to be protected as marine reserve

Addition of Palmachim Disturbance will double size of Israel’s offshore nature reserves, conserving rare corals, squid, sharks, methane springs and other unique flora and fauna

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Unusual corals like this one have been discovered in the deep sea area of the Palmachim Disturbance 30 kilometers off the Tel Aviv coast. (Haifa University Department of Marine Biology)
Unusual corals like this one have been discovered in the deep sea area of the Palmachim Disturbance 30 kilometers off the Tel Aviv coast. (Haifa University Department of Marine Biology)

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg announced Tuesday that she will soon declare a new marine protected area in the Mediterranean Sea, which will double the size of such areas within Israel’s Exclusive Economic Zone — a band of water stretching 200 miles into the sea.

The Palmachim Disturbance lies 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) west of Tel Aviv and its depth varies from 450 to 1,200 meters (1,500 to 3,900 feet).

In geology, a disturbance is a linear zone of rock strata that reflects processes of folding and faulting.

According to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), this area, discovered only during the past decade, includes rare corals, squid, sharks, unique methane springs, and breeding grounds for endangered species such as the Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The SPNI has described it as a site of “extraordinary importance,” with “unique aspects of nature, some of them important on a global scale.”

The disturbance was registered for preservation in 2019 by the government’s Committee for the Preservation of the Marine Environment.

Zandberg was addressing the President’s Climate Forum in Jerusalem.

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