An unexpected visitor spotted sunbathing on a beach in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv is turning heads and causing a media buzz.
But it’s not American film director and Tel Aviv mainstay, Quentin Tarantino, or another Hollywood celebrity — it’s Yulia, an endangered Mediterranean monk seal.
The seal cow first appeared south of Tel Aviv’s main beachfront last Friday. Today, Yulia drew clusters of curious onlookers to the rocky beach south of Jaffa’s historic center.
These seals are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with as few as 350 mature specimens estimated to exist in the wild. Its populations have dwindled due to historic seal hunting, fishing, and habitat destruction.
Rarely spotted on Israel’s shores, the dwindling Mediterranean monk seal populations are believed to survive only in a handful of places in the Mediterranean Sea.
Israel’s Nature and Park Authority has fenced off the section of beach where Yulia has come ashore to rest, and dispatched volunteers to monitor her from a distance.