For the first time ever recorded in Israel’s southernmost city, loggerhead turtles were seen hatching on a beach in Eilat on Tuesday.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority said that until now the loggerhead turtle had only been seen on the Mediterranean coast.
“I took a look at the camera and I saw cute turtles emerging from the sand and just starting to run into the water. It’s an amazing experience to see something like this, especially since we know it’s the first record of this species in Eilat. Amazing,” Omri Omsi, an INPA volunteer, told Channel 12 news.
According to the report, an adult loggerhead tried to lay eggs on Eilat’s beach a number of months ago, but was sent back to the sea by vacationers. The incident was filmed, and as a result, the Nature and Parks Authority gated the area off.
After that, the same turtle apparently returned to lay eggs, this time with no disturbances.
“They are a species that need a sandy, clean, quiet beach. We can’t preserve them only by declaring them a protected species. If we do not know how to preserve their habitats as well, they will not be able to continue to thrive,” Assaf Habri, another volunteer told the network.
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INPA said it hopes this was not a one-time event, and the loggerheads will return once more to Eilat.
An estimated 8,000 loggerhead turtle egg clutches are laid in the central and eastern Mediterranean each year.
Loggerheads are considered a vulnerable species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Those spotting turtle tracks are asked to call *3639 and to provide photographs and an exact location. They should not touch the tracks and, if possible, prevent other beachgoers from doing so and wait close by until an inspector arrives. Under no circumstances should a member of the public disturb a turtle nest or try to remove the eggs, the INPA says.
Sue Surkes contributed to this report.