Dead whale washes on Ashkelon beach, likely killed by tar

Reports also indicated that several sea turtles also washed up dead, but this has yet to be confirmed.

A baby common whale which washed up on the shore of Nitzanim Beach in southern Israel, Feb. 18, 2021. (photo credit: DAVID HALFON/NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY)
A baby common whale which washed up on the shore of Nitzanim Beach in southern Israel, Feb. 18, 2021.
(photo credit: DAVID HALFON/NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY)
A dead whale washed ashore Nitzan Beach near Ashkelon on Thursday, Israeli media reported, after it was first spotted by surfers.
 
According to Nature and Parks Authority inspector David Halfon, who arrived on the scene, the beached whale was a calf and just 10 meters in length.  
Common whales, such as this one, normally grow up to 20 meters in the Mediterranean, and can grow up to 24 meters in oceans, Dr. Aviad Sheinin of the Morris Kahn Marine Research Station and the Delphis Association said in a statement.
  
Initial tests indicated that the whale's death was caused by a build-up of massive amounts of tar, which had accumulated on Wednesday due to runoff from the storms which swept through the country this past week.
Reports also indicated that several sea turtles also washed up dead on shore. Videos released show two deceased sea turtles who washed ashore, covered in tar.
 
The Environmental Protection Ministry will establish an extensive situational assessment to find the root of the problem, headed by Minister Gila Gamliel.
According to the minister, "We will work to locate the source of the pollution, find those responsible and bring them to justice."

Press queries have been sent to the Nature and Parks Authority who have not yet respond for comment.
The incident follows reports of lumps of tar piling up on Israeli beaches due to the recent stormy weather. The Environmental Protection Ministry said on Wednesday that the tar will continue to do so for 48 hours.
The ministry instructed local councils to begin emergency protocols to get cleaning crews in place for Thursday, when the storm is expected to pass.
The tar itself is “of an unknown source,” Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said in a statement at the time, adding that her ministry is investigating its origin.
However, experts explain they are the result of an oil spill from a shipping vessel that passed along the coast.
"The beach pollution that we see today from Nitzanim in the South to Rosh Hanikra in the North, and which was caused by yesterday's storm, is one of the most dire we've ever seen in Israel," Nature and Parks Authority Director-General Shaul Goldstein said in a video statement Thursday. 
"We just started cleaning this morning, and we've already removed five tons of tar from the beaches," he added. "Our estimate is that we will remove dozens of tons of tar, which now covers beaches across the country."
"We call on the authorities to find those responsible for this oceanic pollution, punish them and make them pay for what they did."
"In addition, we have designated a task force to start cleaning beaches starting on Sunday," Goldstein said. "We call on the public to come and volunteer.
"It's very Sisyphean work, but we want our children to see golden sands and rocks of Genesis on the beaches. Otherwise, we'll just be stuck with this tar," Goldstein concluded.
A spokesperson for the animal rights group Animals Now told The Jerusalem Post that it "is painful to see that once again, animals are suffering and paying the price of human actions,"
"The marine animals, mostly fish, suffer daily from intensive fishing – the fishing industry has basically declared a war on marine life with its huge nets catching, hurting and killing with no distinction," the spokesperson said. "There are worrying estimations that as soon as 2050, most marine animals will cease to exist due to this human greed."
"As if this wasn't enough, the careless atrocities such as this tar spill put the animals in even greater danger," the spokesperson concluded. "As a matter of policy and as a matter of individual actions, a true change in the way we view and treat fish and other marine animals must change dramatically."
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.