JERUSALEM, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Israel launched on Tuesday the first tourist marine nature reserve in the Mediterranean Sea off the country's northern coast, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority said.
The protected site, named Rosh Hanikra-Akhziv Marine Reserve, extends along about 7 km of coast with bays from the Lebanese border in the north to the city of Nahariya to the south, and about 15 km west from the coastline into the sea.
This is the second tourist marine reserve in Israel, after the Eilat Coral Beach Nature Reserve in the Red Sea, and the largest of the nine marine reserves in Israel with an area of more than 100 square km.
The reserve protects the flora and fauna on the coastline, underwater, on four islands, and in an 850-meter-deep underwater canyon, the only one of its kind off the coast of Israel.
Monk seals, 13 species of cartilaginous fish, and nests of many bird species, some of them rare, were previously observed in the reserve area.
It also contains Israel's largest population of grouper fish, Mediterranean slipper lobsters, various sea anemones, snails, urchins and cucumbers, as well as many other marine species.