Israel has launched its first tourist marine nature reserve in the Mediterranean Sea off the country’s northern coast, Israel Nature and Parks Authority has said.
Rosh Hanikra-Akhziv Marine Reserve spans approximately 7 km of coastline, and encompasses bays from the Lebanese border to Nahariya. It extends 15 km westward into the sea and covers over 100 square km.
The protected site is the second tourist marine reserve in Israel, after the Eilat Coral Beach Nature Reserve in the Red Sea, and the largest of the nine marine reserves in the country with an area of more than 100 square km.
The reserve protects the flora and fauna on the coastline, underwater, on four islands, and in an 850-meter-deep underwater canyon. Monk seals, 13 species of cartilaginous fish, and nests of many bird species, including some rare species, were earlier observed in the reserve area. The site also contains Israel’s largest population of grouper fish, Mediterranean slipper lobsters, various sea anemones, snails, urchins and cucumbers, as well as many other marine species.
In addition to marine nature reserves, Israel also plans to establish marine national parks to protect ancient coastal cities with their ports and various heritage sites near the beach or at sea.