At Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park, they're sweating the small stuff
A new photography exhibit along the river will highlight the area's rich, and mostly unknown, biodiversity of insects and flora
Most the hikers and visitors at Hayarkon Park consider them a nuisance, or don't even notice they are there, but the colorful world of insects along the river will soon become more accessable to the public.
In three weeks' time, dozens of close-up photographs illustrating the crawling, flying and buzzing swarms who have made the river their home will go on show. The exhibition will be placed along the length of the banks as well as on nearby Ussishkin Street.
Five graduates of the Camera Obscura photography school will provide the photos, with the assistance of the Yarkon River Authority and the Epson company. The students were sent to various sites along the paths of the riverside, from the source near Rosh Ha'ayin to the estuary on the Tel Aviv shore, with instructions to document the insects and the flora.
The photographs for the exhibition were selected by Zohar Yanai of Tel Aviv University, who is conducting a study of the biological diversity in the regions of Israel's rivers, with the emphasis on insects.
David Pergament, the authority's director, said the exhibition's aim was to increase the public's awareness of the hidden beauty of the river.
"The exhibition will intensify the experience of the photography as well as the experience of strolling [in the area]," said Tamar Kochner-Abraham, the administrator of Camera Obscura.
The Yarkon River has suffered from serious pollution problems for years as large swaths of nearby land were developed.
Nevertheless its immediate surroundings have maintained biodiversity which includes, in addition to the insects, an abundance of water fowl, animals of prey like jungle cats and jackals, and various other animals including porcupines and mongoose.
The exhibition includes insects like dragonflies, bugs, snails and flies which are not rare but whose existence is extremely important for the rest of the river's ecosystem.
"These living creatures are a central component in the existence of the ecosystem and they have a number of tasks like helping in the distribution of flowers," Yanai said. "They are not in danger of extinction but they too are affected by pollution and the destruction of habitats. Some of them are dependent on water for reproduction and food and when there is insufficient water they are in trouble."
Pergament says the quality of the river's water is expected to improve in the coming year since the purification systems that take care of the sewage have been upgraded.
He believes that, as a result, wildlife will migrate from the eastern section, where clean water now flows, to additional areas and that this will improve the river's ecosystem even more.