Mon, 15 Aug 2022

JERUSALEM, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- National monitoring carried out by Israel found deterioration in the state of the sensitive ecosystem at the Gulf of Aqaba in the northern Red Sea, Israel's Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Wednesday.

A monitoring report said that coral reef of the gulf, known in Israel as the Gulf of Eilat, did not recover from the 2020 winter storm that caused the breaking of the coral colonies and covered them with sand.

The monitoring, carried out by the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat, found a five percent decrease in the area covered by live corals since the storm.

In addition, the biological diversity in the gulf was seriously harmed, including a sharp decrease in the number of sea urchins, which play an important role in cleaning the reef from algae that compete with the corals for settlement sites.

Also, seagrass disappeared at a depth of 10 meters, severely affecting the habitat for young fish and invertebrate creatures.

Since 1988 there has been an increase the deep water's temperature in the gulf, at an average rate of about 0.045 degrees Celsius per year, the report noted.

The report also found high turbidity in the water, due to changes in water currents, which made it difficult for the corals to photosynthesize.

The authors of the report forecast further damage to natural values as a result of the construction activity on the beaches.

"Eilat's reef is not only the main attraction in the resort city, but also a natural treasure of global importance, and it is the responsibility of all relevant parties to preserve it," said Israel's Minister of Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg.

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