This story was reported in a confusing way. At first it seemed they had just washed upon shore en masse but that was not the case.
Palestinian fishermen on Wednesday dragged hundreds of endangered rays out of the waters off the Gaza Strip, sparking an absurd international media sensation over where the fish came from.
Palestinian media reported that the cartilaginous fish had made a comeback in the waters off the Palestinian territory after years of absence, and that local fishermen had begun hauling them to the markets.
Once images of rows of dead rays lined up on the Gaza beach were photographed by the press, however, the story began to metamorphose — from a large and interesting catch at sea, to a purported mass death mystery.
Like sharks on the kill, the UK’s Daily Mail online picked up the story shortly after it was published, but rewrote it as the “Mystery of the massacred manta rays.”
Italy’s La Repubblica ran an AFP photo taken Wednesday morning of the rays lined up on the beach and also called it a mystery. “It is difficult to determine the cause, but the scenario that occurred on the beach was really disconcerting,” it wrote.
I saw this absurdity from the Daily Mail of course where the headline was “Mystery of the massacred mobula rays: Just why DID dozens of these bloodied sea creatures wash up on the beach in Gaza?” which was a little different (might be even different now). Several other outlets also made it seem like a mystery mass stranding. But it wasn’t. As this Times of Israel article notes, fishing was now allowed where it wasn’t before and there was a HUGE haul. Problem is, these fish may be threatened.
This devil ray is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They had been rare before because they had been heavily overfished.
Mysterious Mobula mass mortality | Deep Sea News. See comments that note the targeted fishing explanation.