Israeli officials said Thursday that the carcass of a 10-meter-long (33 feet) whale was found Thursday on the beach of the Holot Nitzanim Reserve south of Tel Aviv.
David Halfon of the Nature and Parks Authority said the animal was a fin whale calf about half the size of an adult, which can grow to more than 20 meters (about 66 feet) long.
He and other officials said it wasn't clear what caused the death, but they said the water nearby is polluted, including with tar.
"It's a very sad event," Halfon said of the whale's death and appearance in the Nitzanim Reserve.
Aviad Scheinin of the Morris Kahn Marine Research Station said a team will take samples from the animal to try to determine a cause of death.
Shaul Goldstein, CEO of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, said a "tar pollution" incident was plaguing area waters in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, and called for an investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the pollution.
"The tar pollution incident is a very large and very serious event that has caused serious environmental damage. We call on the Ministry of Environmental Protection to investigate the incident and find the culprits," said Goldstein. "The sea pollution we are seeing today is one of the worst we have ever known in Israel."
Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel also referred to the pollution and said that "we will find those responsible and see justice done."
While the source of the pollution remains unknown, it seems that its origins is a vessel that passed off the coast of Israel.
A similar whale washed up dead in the area in 2016.