Hundreds of volunteers took part Saturday in a cleanup operation of the Israeli shoreline as investigations are underway to determine the cause of an oil spill that threatens the beach and wildlife.
Israeli media reported that several volunteers were hospitalized after inhaling fumes. Israel's Nature and Parks Authority urged people to stay away from the beach at 16 of the communities that are most polluted.
From as north as Haifa and down south to Ashkelon near Gaza, black strips could be seen along the Mediterranean coastline.
At Gador Nature Reserve near the northern city of Hadera, the tar smeared fish, turtles, and other sea creatures.
Director of the Carmel area at the Nature and Parks Authority Dudi Weiner, said it will take years to repair the damage done by the spill.
"In the last 20 years we have not had a catastrophe of this proportion," he said. "In terms of its impact going forward, it will take a long time to recover from. Most of the ecological damage is due to huge amounts of tar settling on the rocky reefs and rocks that pop up at low tide out of the water. There are huge amounts of tar that have stuck to them."
The reason and timing of the spill are yet to be determined, but stormy weather earlier this week is believed to have pushed the pollutants ashore.
On Thursday, a baby whale washed up dead on a beach near Tel Aviv, and authorities investigating whether the two incidents are linked.