In First, Killer Whale Spotted Off Israel's Northern Coast

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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The whale seen off the Acre coast.
The whale seen off the Acre coast.Credit: Manor Guri / Nature and Parks Authority
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

Divers spotted Friday morning a killer whale off Israel's northern coast, and immediately reported the rare sight to the Nature and Parks Authority.

Members of the authority's maritime unit later spotted the mammal some 1.4 miles off the coast of the ancient port city of Acre, where the water is 15 meters deep.

According to the authority, this is the first time a killer whale has been seen off Israel's shores, while other whale species have been spotted along Israel's coasts from time to time.   

Killer whales are indigenous around the world, including the Atlantic Ocean, and the western Mediterranean, near Gibraltar. They typically are not found further east in the Mediterranean.

Adult whales can reach 10 meters long, live in groups that can include dozens of other whales, and eat sea animals including seals.

There were reports of four killer whales off the Italian coast at the end of last year, researchers concluded that those whales had come from Iceland. 

One of these whales is the one sighted off Israel Friday.

While whales are an impressive sight to see, finding them too close to shores could be a sign of trouble for the animals themselves.

Indeed, reports about the lone whale’s wellbeing left researchers concerned. 

“He looks thin and it was reported that he’s swimming on his side,” said Prof. Oz Goffman of the Israel Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center. “Those are clear signs that he’s in poor condition. Even the fact that he’s here indicates that he’s not in good shape, because he’s supposed to be in a different region.” 

The Nature and Parks Authority said it has no way to assist the whale. Researchers will continue tracking it, and hope that it finds its way back to the Atlantic Ocean on its own. 

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