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Israeli environmental report warns of threats to Eilat coral reef

Following an alarming report by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Israeli environmentalists are calling for tighter limits on oil shipping in the Gulf of Eilat.
Eilat coral

Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry warned that despite the Gulf of Eilat coral reef's unusual resilience to environmental threats, climate change and pollution are taking their toll on the Red Sea ecosystem. The ministry called on Israeli planning authorities to minimize construction on the shoreline and stated that it will object to any efforts to increase oil shipping via the Eilat and the Ashkelon port terminals.

This week, the ministry published its 2022 report on the Gulf of Eilat, called the Gulf of Aqaba elsewhere in the Middle East. For two decades, the annual publication has compiled daily readings on the quality of the water and its temperature. Some of its 2022 findings are particularly alarming.

In parallel, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service reported Thursday that temperatures in the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf of Eilat are reaching record highs this year. Copernicus found that both regions were already warmer than average at the end of the March, and with summer lasting longer through September, temperatures could break local records. 

Jonathan Shaked at the Inter-university Institute of Marine Sciences in Eilat is gathering and analyzing data for the national marine monitoring program. His data show a significant increase in the Red Sea water surface temperatures, at least in the Eilat region. This year's highest surface sea temperature in the Gulf of Eilat was 30.5°C (86.9°F) on July 28 — just under the maximum measurements taken in August 2020 and 2021.

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