Government Monitor Finds Eilat Coral Reef in Trouble

By Hamodia Staff

A section of the coral reef in the southern Israeli port city of Eilat. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM – A government body has called for a limit on development and construction in the Gulf of Eilat, citing findings of extensive damage to the coral reef in recent years, The Times of Israel reported on Wednesday.

A report from the Israel National Monitoring Program at the Gulf of Eilat just released said that the coral reef failed to regenerate after a winter storm two years ago, a condition the authors described as “worrying.”

“There is a fear of further harm to nature as a result of construction activity on the beaches, works that make it even more difficult to restore the coral reef,” the report warned.

“Another worrisome trend…is the continued increase in the deep water temperature recorded in the previous surveys,” the report said, adding that the rise of surface level temperatures at a rate of 0.045 — two and a half times higher than the increase estimated by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — could also harm the corals.

Other troubling factors  were also noted in the report, such as a serious decline in the area’s ecosystem, including a 50% decrease in the number of sea urchins since 2019.

“Sea urchins have an important job in cleaning the reef from algae that compete with the corals for settlement sites on the reef,” the report explained.

Furthermore, seaweed was not found below 10 meters in the water, which the monitor said could adversely affect the food supply of young and invertebrate fish.

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg agreed that the findings are “worrisome” and called for “greater involvement of the government ministries in protecting the bay in the face of threats, the origin of many of which are local.”

She also said that development in Eilat “ignores environmental considerations in a way that cannot be considered reasonable” and called for works to be carried out in a “more sensitive way.”

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