Diving with dolphins in Eilat has been an attraction for decades, but more recently a new phenomenon has drawn Israelis to another coast, just south of Caesarea, to the Orot Rabin Power Plant.
Drawn to the warm temperatures of the plant's water discharge channel, tens of Dusky sharks and Sandbar Sharks now spend the winter months enjoying the relatively comfortable temperatures close to the coast.
The sharks appear every year off the coast of the Hadera River Park in the open waters of the Mediterranean, and under no jurisdiction of Israel's Nature and Parks Park Authority, or other environmental organizations.
As the sharks discovered the waters, more and more people have discovered the sharks, and come to swim or row alongside them. While this seems like a crazy idea, these predators seem not to be bothered much by the humans surrounding them.
Still, this leaves these endangered giants in a precarious situation. While they are protected by law, the shark tourists who frequent the area are not limited from entering the water, getting too close to them, or harming them.
Duskies and Sandbars, like any other shark in the Mediterranean, are facing ever increasing challenges. Overfishing, pollution and other environmental changes have reduced their numbers to dangerous levels, and in many places like Hadera, they are at the mercy of the people in their immediate vicinity.
At the same time, the yearly shark gathering has also created an opportunity for research to help answer questions that we still do not know about them, and plan to keep them safe in the future. The hope is that in the coming years a safe and organized way to visit the sharks will be set up, to ensure that they keep returning to this spot.
If you are planning on visiting the sharks, be sure to stick to the guidelines of the Nature and Parks Authority:
Do not swim close to the sharks. Keep your distance to ensure your safety, and theirs.
Do not attempt to feed the sharks.
There are no lifeguard services at the beach. Swimming in the area is dangerous, especially when there are strong currents.
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