An endangered Mediterranean monk seal swam onto a beach in Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv, to rest on the beach and shed her skin, drawing an excited crowd to watch.
The female seal, or cow, was named Yulia by the boy who found her before notifying the Nature and Parks Authority. She will likely stay for a few days until she has finished shedding her skin, marine ranger Harel Baz said.
"We hope she will take her time and stay with us as much as she can," Baz said.
Children and adults alike came to visit Yulia, who was basking on the beach behind protective metal bars, sometimes galumphing in the sand, apparently not bothered by her audience.
Baz said the same cow was first spotted in 2007 in Turkey, where she is known as Tugra. This species prefers the relatively cool beach caves of the Greek and Turkish islands, he said, and hardly ever climbs onto the sun-drenched shores of Israel, Syria and Lebanon.
The global Mediterranean monk seal population is estimated at between 400 and 500, placing it among the rarest marine mammals, Baz said.