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 six years, according to a local video report purporting to show fisherman examining the Rays.
The 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. The Rays can weigh more than 12 stone and sell for around five shekels (£0.90) per pound in local markets, the Ma'an News Agency reported. Bob Rubin, of Santa Rosa Junior College in California, is one of the world's leading expert on Rays, and spoke to MailOnline 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".
‘These animals seem to have blood on the "wings" - pectoral fins - which may have come from slapping something - boats, rocks, sand, each other?’ He added that without seeing the fish and looking further into other possible causes such as their stomach contents and condition of their gills, he could not determine what might have caused the stranding.
'This observation is strange to me and unknown to me as well.These animals seem to have blood on the "wings" - pectoral fins - which may have come from slapping something - boats, rocks, sand, each other', says Bob Rubin, of Santa Rosa Junior College in California. ‘Large underwater noises or electrical signals may have caused some state of disorientation but that is only a guess on my part,’ Mr Rubin said.
Elsewhere, mounds of starfish were pictured baking in the sun on Olango Island at the start of their journey from sea creature to home decoration.
The animals were plucked from the tropical waters of the Philippines and bleached to remove their natural colour and smell before being exported. Some will be dyed in bright colours and others left white.
They are shipped around the world and used to decorate picture frames or brighten bathrooms.