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Marine patrol group brings displaced families aboard for R&R

Coast Patrol connects with Partyacht to give those evacuated from the Gaza and Lebanese border a whiff of boating freedom

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

Residents of Kibbutz Nir Am near the Gaza Strip relax off the coast of Tel Aviv on November 11, 2023, courtesy of The Coast Patrol and Partyacht. (Joseph Segal, The Coast Patrol)
Residents of Kibbutz Nir Am near the Gaza Strip relax off the coast of Tel Aviv on November 11, 2023, courtesy of The Coast Patrol and Partyacht. (Joseph Segal, The Coast Patrol)

On Saturday, 120 members of Kibbutz Nir Am set sail for a maritime excursion joined by a mermaid, or a woman dressed up as one.

A month earlier, the kibbutz members had been locked into bombproof rooms for hours, listening as family and neighbors waged a pitched battle against Hamas terrorists trying to infiltrate their community.

To help communities recover, the Coast Patrol, a marine preservation organization run entirely by volunteers, launched a series of Saturday sea outings for people evacuated from their homes because of the war.

“We’re privileged to be able to use our resources to enable the children to get some fresh air and mainly to smile,” said Coast Patrol co-founder and director, Joseph Segal.

The outings, which set out from the Tel Aviv marina, use a small boat belonging to the Coast Patrol and a larger one provided by Partyacht.

During normal times, the Coast Patrol operates a volunteer diving team that surveys and removes marine debris, particularly lost fishing nets that can trap sea creatures fatally.

A girl from Kibbutz Nir Am near the Gaza Strip meets a mermaid during an outing on the Mediterranean Sea, November 11, 2023, courtesy of The Coast Patrol and Partyacht. (Joseph Segal, The Coast Patrol)

It also patrols the sea looking for debris and illegal fishing and rescuing creatures in distress such as sea turtles, which it refers to the Israel Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in central Israel.

Last year, the organization launched a program to take children and teens out to sea to learn about Israel’s marine environment and the threats against it.

Families displaced due to the war are invited to register here or to call 054-991-0568 to arrange an outing.

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