Shark observation center to open in Israel’s north
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Shark observation center to open in Israel’s north

Site aims to assist public in viewing and learning about unique gathering of marine predators that occurs along country’s shores each winter

A picture taken on January 23, 2017, shows an Israeli taking photos of sharks in the Mediterranean sea off the Israeli coastal city of Hadera north of Tel Aviv. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)
A picture taken on January 23, 2017, shows an Israeli taking photos of sharks in the Mediterranean sea off the Israeli coastal city of Hadera north of Tel Aviv. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

A shark observation center and informational station is set to open at a beach near Hadera, allowing visitors to learn more about and better view intriguing annual gatherings of the mighty fish.

The center will also inform visitors of the importance of preserving the sharks and their habitats, the Walla news site reported.

Every winter, about 20 to 30 dusky and sandbar sharks gather near the pipelines of the Orot Rabin power plant in the northern city, where the station’s excess hot water is discharged into the Mediterranean Sea.

The dusky shark is about 4 meters (about 13 feet) long, weighs about 350 kilograms (770 lbs), and has slightly rounded fins.

A picture taken on January 23, 2017, shows an Israeli taking photos of sharks in the Mediterranean sea off the Israeli coastal city of Hadera north of Tel Aviv. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

The sandbar sharks have smaller fins, weigh about 100 kilograms (220 lbs), and are about 2.5 (about 8 feet) meters long.

Both species are at risk of extinction.

The station and observation center will be set up in cooperation with the National Parks Administration, the Hadera Municipality, the Nahalim Development Company, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, the Aquaculture Association, the Morris Kahn Marine Research Station, and the Israel Diving Association.

“Shark populations in the Mediterranean are being depleted in size due to overfishing and unintentional fishing, and sometimes sharks caught inadvertently are thrown back into the sea dying or dead,” Yigal Ben Ari, the director of the marine unit at the Nature and Parks Authority, told Walla.

Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Israeli coastal city of Hadera north of Tel Aviv, January 23, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

“Because they are predators, the sharks dilute the number of weak and slow animals in the ecosystem, thereby strengthening other species and the marine environment as a whole,” he continued, stressing the animal’s importance to the ecological system. “The information station for the general public is part of a broad action plan of the bodies involved to promote the issue [of shark preservation] for the benefit of the public.”

The information and shark observation station will be open to the public each Saturday from December 1 through April, except on rainy days, according to the Walla report.

Last year, Haifa University researchers reported that the shark gathering near the power station is an intriguing phenomenon that does not occur in other similar places in the world. The researchers, who have documented and tagged 38 sharks along the Hadera shores since beginning their study in 2016, noted that new sharks arrive in the area every year, Walla reported.

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