Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mediterranean Monk Seal Spotted near Herzliya

One of the world's rarest mammals spotted near Herzliya

A monk seal, one of the world's rarest mammals, was spotted near the Herzliya coast and off the coast of Caesarea over the weekend. This was the first time in decades that the monk seal has made an appearance in Israel.

Photo Removed - It had been stolen by someone else and posted on Flickr as Creative Commons when in actual fact the property right belonged to someone else. (Peter)

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One of the seals was spotted on Friday by Moshe Taviv and his son, Haim, while fishing. The seal appeared sick and exhausted. The two alerted Shmuel Landau of the Ramat Gan Safari Park, but the seal evaded Landau's efforts to help and escaped.

Officials from the Israel Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center subsequently tried unsuccessfully to locate the animal. Saturday they received a report from fishermen off the Caesarea coast who had seen the monk seal. A picture of the seal taken by a fisherman was sent to experts in the Netherlands, who said the monk seal was probably a female.

The seals can be as much as 2.40 meters in length and can dive to a depth of 100 meters. The most recent sightings of monk seals in Israel occurred 50 years ago.

There were also reports around the same time of sightings in Lebanon of 10 to 20 monk seals, but in recent years there
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