A rare Mediterranean Monk Seal found resting on a Jaffa beach last Friday has become an overnight celebrity.
The seal, who was named Julia by a child who spotted her, was first noticed by curious beachgoers. Their attempt to help her back into the water was seen by a passing cyclist who alerted the police. The police then contacted the Nature and Parks Authority, according to Ynet.
On Monday, Julia reportedly ventured back into the water but by Tuesday she was again napping on the beach.
Workers from the Nature Authority, along with volunteers from as far away as the Golan Heights, have been watching Julia around the clock, to keep her safe after kids threw rocks at her and to prevent large crowds gathered to see the rare seal from getting too close.
There is a worry that too many people near the seal may startle her as she rests from a long journey at sea. Nature Authority officials do not want her to become traumatized and never return to the area.
It is believed Julia came to the Jaffa beach to shed her fur, ILTV reported. She will likely stay on the sandy shore for a few more days before departing after the process of changing her fur from winter to summer is complete.
One of the world’s rarest seals, with numbers close to extinction, there are fewer than 500 in three or four isolated populations in the Mediterranean: in the Aegean Sea, the archipelago of Madeira and the Cabo Blanco region of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean.