Dozens of rare manta rays caught off Gaza coast

Dozens of manta rays were laid out Monday on a beach in the blockaded Gaza Strip as local Palestinian fishermen celebrated the mass catch.

The rare fish flock to the Mediterranean waters off the coast of Gaza every year in March and April.

Fishing is a major commercial activity in Gaza, which has been under an Israeli-led blockade since 2007, when Islamist movement Hamas took over the territory.

Fisherman Bashir Shoueikh caught more than 10 of the rays, each weighing between 200 and 300 kg (440-660 pounds).

They sell for around 12 shekels ($3.30) per kilo.

"Each boat carries 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.

The two species of manta ray -- manta alfredi and manta birostris -- are both on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's red list of threatened species due to their declining numbers.