Nahal Taninim (Hebrew: נחל תנינים), meaning Crocodile Stream, is a river originating near Ramot Menashe and emptying into the Mediterranean Sea south of Ma’agan Michael, Israel. Crocodile River was established south of the village of Jisr al Zarka. The Arabic name means a bridge over a blue river.
The area of Nahal Taninim was settled from Persian times to the times of the Crusaders in the Middle Ages. It is a beautiful park with 2000-year-old Roman water technology still visible.
The Romans realized the benefits of plentiful fresh water in the Kabara valley and accordingly designed various methods by which to channel this water to the citizens of Caesarea, nearly five kilometers away.
During the renovation of the preserve, excavators discovered a dam, which utilized three wooden floodgates to elevate the water and control its flow through the ground level aqueducts chiseled out of stone by Roman laborers. The 200-meter long dam created a reservoir of 6000 dunams, creating a large lake unlimited supply of fresh water.
The last time a Crocodile was spotted in the river was in 1912. It’s remains preserved in the crocodile zoological collection of Father Schmitz, north of Damascus Gate, Jerusalem. Today, the banks of the river and surrounding wetlands provide the visitor with a cacophony of sounds from heron, cormorants, and storks who feed in the nearby fishponds.
The Taninim is a clean coastal river, which provides nutrients to the plentiful water lilies, grasses, turtles and fish in the reserve. The reserve ensures that the visitor experiences a wonderful combination of archeology in a peaceful natural setting.
Photo: Dr. Avishai Teicher