Two dead dolphins, dead turtle wash up on Israeli shores

Two dead dolphins washed up on southern Israeli shores Tuesday, one at a beach in the city of Ashkelon and the other, later in the day, at a marine reserve just south of Nitzanim beach.

Both were taken for autopsy at Haifa University’s Morris Kahn Center for Marine Research. It was thought that the first one, a young male, might have suffocated after getting tangled in a fishing net.

Two loggerhead turtles also swept onto the beach at the marine reserve. One was dead and the second, badly hurt, was taken to the National Sea Turtle Rescue Center on the northern coast.

During the morning, the same center had celebrated releasing two loggerhead turtles off the coast of Michmoret that had spent weeks undergoing treatment and rehabilitation.

Two loggerhead turtles that have been nursed back to health at the National Sea Turtle Rescue Center await release back into the Mediterranean, April 6, 2021. (Olga Ribek, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

Meanwhile a spokesman for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority told The Times of Israel that initial laboratory tests on a juvenile whale that washed up on Nitzanim beach in February had not shone any light on the cause of death.

“Due to parasites detected on his body, he may have been in poor physical condition,” the spokesman said, adding that further results might provide more information.

The 7-meter (55 feet) whale corpse appeared on February 18, the first day on which tar began washing up following heavy storms. The tar was later traced to a marine oil spill that apparently occurred on either February 1 or 2.

Thousands of volunteers rallied over many days to help to clean up contaminated beaches from Nitzanim to Rosh Hanikra in the far north. Officials dealing with marine issues said they could not remember an incident with such a wide geographical spread. The long-term damage to ecosystems still remains to be seen.

Israelis stand around a 17-meter fin whale washed ashore on the Nitzanim beach, near the city of Ashkelon, February 19, 2021. (Photo by Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

On March 3, the Environment Ministry announced that the Emerald tanker, a 19-year-old Libyan ship sailing under a Panamanian flag and carrying crude oil, probably from Iran to Syria, was responsible for the spill.

An investigation by the firm Black Cube subsequently found that the Emerald, which is registered in the Marshall Islands, is owned by the Syrian Malah family.

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