An interview with the Israeli marine ecologist Eyal Bigal offers an original angle on life in and around the Jewish state. Israel’s shark population is flourishing, which, as well as being good for the sharks and the marine ecosystem, is good for Israeli research institutions. Because of the increase, Israel is becoming a hub for Mediterranean shark research. Says Bigal:
The Mediterranean is one of the most dangerous environments for sharks. Over the last 60 to 70 years, we’ve lost 95 percent of the population. In recent years, however, Israel has become an unlikely home for the sharks during the winter months. What’s been fascinating is that the sharks have been aggregating around the country’s coastal power stations, perhaps due to the higher temperatures, creating a jacuzzi effect near the plants.
Has Israel done anything to aid the growth of these new guests?
Without realizing it, Israel is actually doing a lot to help. Because sharks aren’t kosher, they’re not being fished for, and we’ve created somewhat of a safe haven for them, unlike in many nearby regions. . . . This is still one of the most nutrient-poor regions in the world and it’s thus very surprising that top marine predators should have been coming here in large numbers.