dolphin- Aviad Scheinin
Photo by Dr. Aviad Scheinin
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A pod of 10 dolphins was spotted off the coast of Herzliya on Saturday, Army Radio reported, in what has become a not-uncommon sight along Israel's shores in recent years.

Experts from the Israel Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center (IMMRAC) said that the pod included two calves.

An annual report released earlier this year by IMMRAC said that 181 bottlenose dolphins were identified by the distinctive markings on their dorsal fins.

The most frequently sighted dolphin this year is Ziggi and her calf, Zigmund, and another female that recently gave birth. Among the 15 sighted earlier this year near Herzliya and Tel Aviv were some that were known from previous sightings as well as a few new calves.

"We believe there are between 300 and 400 Mediterranean bottlenose dolphins near Israel's shoreline," Dr. Aviad Scheinin chairman of the research center, which is a non-profit group, said yesterday.

"The data of the past year strengthens research I did at the University of Haifa showing that the bottlenose dolphin has a permanent population near Israel's shores and is an inseparable part of Israel's flora and fauna."