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Israel’s celebrity monk seal ‘Yulia’ resurfaces

The rare Mediterranean monk seal made an appearance at Firing Range 24 in Rishon Lezion.

Yulia at Firing Range 24 beach in Rishon Letzion, May 29, 2023. Photo by Guy Levian/Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
Yulia at Firing Range 24 beach in Rishon Letzion, May 29, 2023. Photo by Guy Levian/Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

The Mediterranean monk seal who has become a celebrity in Israel over the past few weeks has been spotted again—this time at a closed military section of a beach in the central city of Rishon Lezion.

Affectionately named “Yulia,” the endangered mammal “looked healthy and is in good shape,” the Israel Nature and Parks Authority posted to social media. 

The INPA said that she was found during a Monday morning scan for sea turtle nests at Firing Range 24, a beach belonging to the Defense Ministry that is used for artillery and explosive material.

Yulia has been spotted several times beaching herself in different coastal areas of Israel since she caused a stir earlier this month while basking on a Tel Aviv beach.

Mediterranean monk seals are considered an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with as few as 350 mature seals estimated to exist in the wild. Their population has been devastated by seal hunting, fishing and habitat destruction. 

The Nature and Parks Authority, which tracks Yulia’s movements, said that on Sunday night she was spotted in Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv, but went back to sea after people approached her. 

“Please keep your distance and allow her to come up safely to rest on the beach,” the authority urged the public.

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