Monday, May 15, 2023

Oh Julia

A few days ago a female Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus) landed on a beach just south of Tel Aviv, in Jaffa. It is globally Endangered, with less than 700 individuals left in the world, mostly in Greece and Turkey. This is the third modern record in Israel, and the first accessible individual, so it caused huge interest nationally. It is a 16-year old female, identified according to her unique pattern of scars as an individual from Turkey, affectionately named 'Julia'. A barrier or fence was erected at a safe perimeter around her. Rangers from Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the police are guarding her 24/7. Delphis, an NGO devoted to the conservation of marine mammals in Israel, organised a team and is using the opportunity to do important outreach with the huge crowds attracted.

I couldn't go until yesterday, but yesterday I went twice actually, in the morning with Piki and then again in the evening to broadcast live in a webinar we (BirdLife Israel) did - you can watch the recording on FB here
It was wonderful and very emotional to see such a rare mammal in Israel - we don't have many marine mammals here, and it was my first Israeli seal. She did very little - she started her fur moult process so she is full of fat and just lying there on the beach, possibly for a few more days or even weeks. She turned around and sneezed a few times, that's the most action we saw of her.

Distant Cory's Shearwaters (Scopoli's I assume) were the only birds of note.

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