(Israel Hayom via JNS)

A rare seal was spotted on a beach in central Israel and has been protected by volunteers until it decides to return to sea.

A Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, in Gokova Bay, Turkey like the one visiting Israel. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority said the Mediterranean monk seal is female and around 3 to 5 years old. She was named Julia, a name given by Muhammad, a child who was at the beach and helped the volunteers protect the mammal.

Julia has so far spent three days ashore. Experts stressed that its presence did not indicate any danger to its habitat.

According to Guy Levian, the head of the Marine Unit at the Nature and Parks Authority, it was the first time a seal was sighted resting on the shore in Israel. In 2010, a seal was seen riding waves close to a Herzliya beach but did not come ashore.

כלבת הים שהופיעה אתמול החוף במרכז עדיין נחה על החול. לפי המומחים אין עדות למצוקה של היונקת. מתנדבי רשות הטבע ועמותת דלפיס נמצאים בחוף ומשגיחים. הופעה של כלב ים אצלנוארוע נדיר ביותר. ומשמח מאוד
צילום: דר אביעד שיינין, דלפיס

— Guy Cotev גיא קוטב (@guycotev) May 13, 2023


The Mediterranean monk seal is one of the rarest marine mammals in the world with around 600 individuals grouped into three geographically isolated subpopulations, the eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Cyprus, Turkey), the western coast of Africa and the Madeira archipelago.