Fishermen on the beach at Gaza City were stunned when dozens of Mobula rays mysteriously washed up onshore. The creatures belong to the Mobulidae subfamily and can grow up to 17ft wide. The dead fish were quickly carted to local markets; it was the first time in six years that these animals have been seen in these waters, according to a local video report.

Mobula Rays (Source: YouTube/TheKingOffes)
Mobula Rays Image Credit: YouTube YouTube/TheKingOffes

Mobula rays are collectively referred to as Flying Mobula or simply Flying Rays, due to a tendency to jump out of the water, sometimes as high as two metres, while swimming. These rays can be confused with the more popular members of the same subfamily - the Manta Rays. In any case, a pound of Mobula flesh (the animals can weigh 12st or more) can sell for five shekels (approximately £1), the Ma'an News Agency reported.

"Mobulas often travel in huge schools of thousands of animals and also leap from the water and twist in the air. This [incident] 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," Bob Rubin, from the Santa Rosa Junior College in California told Mail Online.

"These animals seem to have blood on the "wings" - pectoral fins - which may have come from slapping something - boats, rocks, sand, each other?" Rubin, an expert on the Ray family, added.

He also said that unless the stomach contents and condition of the gills were examined, it would be difficult to determine a cause of death. However, he hazarded that large underwater noises or electrical signals may have caused some state of disorientation.

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