Coral reef in Eilat, the northernmost reef in the world, is growing

In a world where coral reefs are shrinking rapidly, the coral reef in Eilat has grown thanks in part to the actions of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

By YVETTE J. DEANE
August 5, 2018 14:31
2 minute read.
The Reef in Eilat, part of a report by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority August, 8 2018.

The Reef in Eilat, part of a report by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority August, 8 2018.. (photo credit: OMRI YOSEF /ISRAEL NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY)

 
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The coral reef in the southern city Eilat, one of the world’s northernmost shallow-water reefs, is growing.

In a world where coral reefs are shrinking rapidly, the coral reef in Eilat has grown thanks to the actions of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, which minimize negative effects on the reef.

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According to Eilat’s official tourist website, the Coral Beach Nature Reserve in Eilat extends 1,200 meters under the sea off the coast of the city. The reserve is “one of the most beautiful and famous in the world due to the amazing coral reef,” the website adds.

The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat published a report on Sunday emphasizing that protecting the reef should be at the top of any agenda to promote development in the Gulf of Eilat, in order to preserve it for future generations.

In contrast to other reefs around the world, an annual multi-year statistical analysis showed an increase of about half a percent per year in animal concentration at the Eilat site.



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The report mentions some recommendations for conserving one of nature’s finest ecosystems. Dr. Jonathan Shaked and Prof. Amatzia Ganin of the Interuniversity Institute cautioned against development on the coast. They also suggested prohibiting the fishing of algae eaters and not harming sea urchins along the coast, especially near the reef.

National Marine Environmental Protection Unit director Shlomo Katz and senior science and research director Dr. Orna Matzner noted that finding a neutral intermediary to encourage cooperation between the Israeli institute in Eilat and the Jordanian Naval Laboratory in Aqaba across the border would be instrumental in monitoring the deep underwater reef.

The resurgence of the coral reef comes at a time of general growth for Eilat, as a new international airport is set to replace two regional airports in the area by March 2019.

Some 20,000 people flew directly to Eilat in 2015, according to a 2016 Tourism Ministry report.

“The goal is to strengthen the city of Eilat, and make Israelis prefer Eilat over other places abroad,” said Transportation Minister Israel Katz regarding the new airport, which will be located 18 km. north of Eilat in the Timna Valley.

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