JAFFA, Israel Yulia the seal did not seem fazed by the rockets from Gaza, much less by the missiles heading in the opposite direction.. Almost 2 meters long and 20 years old, Yulia pounced on a beach in Jaffa, an ancient city south of Tel Aviv, on May 12. It was the fourth of five days of fighting between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants in Gaza. She fall asleep.
Two days earlier, air-raid sirens on the same coast had sent bathers running to the municipal air-raid shelters.. Now, an endangered Mediterranean monk seal — one of an estimated 700 worldwide — had washed up on an Israeli shoreline for the first time known since 2010.
“She knows no limits, no borders, no wars between countries,” said Ruthy Yahel, a marine ecologist who has helped monitor Yulia.
Yulia stayed on the beach for days, sleeping unaware of the announcement of a ceasefire. She didn’t react when crowds began to gather to watch her.. She seemed unfazed when a local boy christened her Yulia. She concentrated on the moult, her fur gradually turning from brown to gray. From time to time, she rolled in the sand. But mostly, she slept.
Israel’s nature authority cordoned off the beach to prevent viewers from disturbing Yulia. Kan, the national broadcaster, provided a live broadcast. Social media users joked that he could defeat embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an election.
“We’re all looking for a bit of sanity in light of all the craziness that’s been going on,” said Avi Blyer, 47, an entertainer who came to see the seal on the morning of May 17. “She is an ambassador for sanity.”
For conservation experts, Yulia’s arrival is also a small victory. At the end of the 19th century, the Mediterranean monk seal population numbered in the thousands, experts say, but it dwindled to hundreds in the 20th century.
After an Israeli seal expert sent photos of Yulia to colleagues in Turkey, the Turks realized the seal was one they had been tracking since the mid-2000s, known as the Tugra. Why she swam the more than 515 kilometers to Jaffa is a mystery, but one theory is that the growing seal population has created more competition for food.
For Israelis, the news of the seal has provided a brief balm from a series of ongoing crises, from recent fighting to an insurgency in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It has briefly distracted from the ethnic tensions in Jaffa.
News of Yulia’s movements have dominated social media groups in the area, said Deborah Danan, a Jaffa resident.
“It’s nice to be able to talk about where the seal is on the beach, rather than where the nearest bomb shelter is”said.
By: PATRICK KINGSLEY
BBC-NEWS-SRC: http://www.nytsyn.com/subscribed/stories/6729333, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-05-24 23:00:07
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