Fishermen collect dozens of manta rays on the beach in Gaza City, where the “vulnerable” creatures have been mysteriously washing up for years.
- Fishermen in Gaza sell manta ray carcasses despite being endangered
Dozens of manta rays were washed up on a beach in the blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday as local Palestinian fishermen celebrated the massive catch.
The rare fish flock to the Mediterranean waters off the coast of Gaza every year in March and April.
In addition to being caught, many seem to wash up on the shores and are then picked up by locals who want to earn money. They can be sold for around 12 shekels ($3.30) per kilo.
Fishing is a major commercial activity in Gaza, which has been under an Israeli-led blockade since 2007, when the Hamas Islamist movement seized the territory.
In his latest burst, fisherman Bashir Shoueikh caught more than 10 rays, each weighing between 200-300kg (440-660lb).
Shocking footage shows people gathering on a beach in Gaza City as dozens of manta rays are laid out
“Each boat is carrying between 20 and 30 of these fish,” Shoueikh told AFP. People like them a lot.
The fishing zone off Gaza, determined by Israel, varies from five to 16 nautical miles, depending on the security situation.
There are two species of manta rays: the manta alfredi and the manta birostris.
Both are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species due to their dwindling numbers.
“These manta rays have been showing up for years,” another fisherman, Bashir Shuwaikh, told euronews.
People gather on a beach in Gaza City around manta rays caught by Palestinian fishermen near the shoreline.
Gaza fishermen catch the rare and endangered stingrays as they pass out to sea during their winter migration.
Fishermen are seen dragging one of the stingrays out of the sea as people gather to watch.
Other shocking photos show young children playing and sitting on the dead stingrays.
A boy apparently helps the fishermen drag the stingrays across the sand and line them up on the beach.
“Every year a large number of these fish wash up because it is currently their season. Each boat carries between 20 and 30 of this fish.
“They come out for about a month and we catch them daily, as long as the weather is warm,” he explained.
Manta rays are considered ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which classifies them on its red list. Its main threat is overfishing.
While the popularity of the creatures’ meat is limited, their gills are often used in Chinese medicine and to filter plankton.
Gory photographs show the carcasses of stingrays littering sandy beaches, with some bloodied as fishermen haul them out of the sea.
Other shocking photos show children playing and sitting on the dead beasts, as well as helping the men drag them up the beach.