A Mediterranean Monk Seal, one of the world's most endangered and rare animal species, was spotted off Israel's coast on Friday, in the first such sighting in recent decades.

The seal was seen by the coast of Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, by fishermen, who then alerted Ramat Gan Safari official Shmulik Landau.

Landau attempted to aid the visibly exhausted seal upon his arrival, however the creature eventually slipped back into the water and disappeared.

Members of the Israel Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center arrived at the scene and attempted to locate the distressed seal, but to no avail.

The last sightings of Mediterranean Monk Seals off Israel's coast were fifty and sixty years ago, at which time neighboring Lebanon reported an estimated population of 10 to 20 of the critically endangered species in its waters.

Since that time the species was not sighted in the region, with a small population estimated to exist off the coasts pf Greece and Turkey.

Conservation groups have designated the Mediterranean Monk Seal as one of the region's most endangered species, with some estimating its worldwide population at no more than 500 individuals.