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220 mobulas wash up on Gaza coast – and why?

Dozens of Mobula Ray fish were mysteriously washed up on the beach in Gaza City yesterday and carted off to market by Palestinian fishermen.

It was the first time the fish had been seen on the beach for seven years, according to a local video report purporting to show fisherman examining the Rays.` he fish are of a similar appearance to the more well-known Manta Rays, which are in the same family, and can reach a width of up to 17ft (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobula).

“It is a godsend,” fisherman Abu Mahmoud al-Issi said on Thursday, the second day running that fishing boats operating from the Palestinian enclave had caught dozens of the giant ray, that are similar to Manta rays. One of the fish weighed 700 kg, locals said.

Maybe it was a godsend for the poor fishermen, but Giant Devil Rays are listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Large schools of Devil Rays are often found about this time of year off the Gaza and Egyptian coast.

“We have not witnessed such a scene for seven years because of the blockade,” said Issi, referring to a 3-mile limit that was extended as part of a ceasefire deal between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, giving fishermen access to deeper waters.

 

A Palestinian policeman looks at stranded Mobula Rays on the Gaza beach yesterday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Rubin, of Santa Rosa Junior College in California, is one of the world’s leading experts on Rays, and spoke about the find in Gaza.

He said: ‘Mobulas often travel in huge schools of thousands of animals and also leap from the water and twist in the air. Very cool indeed. This observation is strange to me and unknown to me as well. I have worked in the Gulf of California for many years where there are abundant mobula schools and I have never seen a “mass stranding”.

 

Breaching mobula, picture by Nick Bonzey

These animals seem to have blood on the “wings” – pectoral fins – which may have come from slapping something – boats, rocks, sand, each other?”

Some sources have suggested, that the rays have been disturbed by underwater sounds.

Sources:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2285463/Dozens-mobula-rays-washed-Gaza-beach-collected-fishermen-carted-market.html#ixzz2MHs5vE36
http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/gazans-make-huge-catch-of-rare-devil-ray-1.506492

 

You can watch a video here (Warning: graphic content!)

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