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The long tail

Pink whiprays, endangered in most of the world, seen near Eilat

Nature and Parks Authority inspector spots the fish 5 meters below sea level, says they ‘swam together with impressive interaction’

A pink whipray spotted off the coast of Eilat, October 2, 2022. (Omri Amosi via Israel Nature and Parks Authority)
A pink whipray spotted off the coast of Eilat, October 2, 2022. (Omri Amosi via Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

There was a rare sighting of three pink whiprays off the coast off Eilat on Thursday.

A maritime inspector with Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority spotted the group of fish five meters below sea level, Hebrew-language media reported.

“They were large and impressive, over 100 centimeters in length, and swam together with impressive interaction,” said Omri Amosi.

The pink whiprays that Amosi encountered are a species of stingray in the family Dasyatidae, considered rare in the Red Sea.

“It’s a very impressive species of rays that have an especially long tail,” Amosi said.

“I documented them and followed them to make sure they were swimming freely, as in this area of the bay there is extensive fishing activity with rods and nets that endanger large animals,” he said.

Intrigued by his encounter, Amosi contacted Adi Barash, a maritime scientist and chair of the Sharks in Israel association, who confirmed that the animals he had seen were indeed uncommon in the area.

“Until recently, it was entirely unknown that there were pink whiprays in the gulf [of Eilat]. But there have been few sightings in recent years,” Barash said.

Three pink whiprays were spotted off the coast of Eilat, October 2, 2022. (Omri Amosi via Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

Barash said there is very little information about the species and its condition around the world.

“It’s considered to be an endangered species because it grows in areas of increased fishing activity and is often confused with other species of Dasyatidae,” Barash said, noting, however, that in Australia the species is not classified as endangered due to the use of tools that prevent fishing of larger fish and sea creatures.

In August, a rare guitarfish that is in danger of extinction was spotted off Eilat’s coast.

The sighting resurfaced concerns of fishing jeopardizing the unique maritime ecosystem that exists in the area.

The INPA urged divers to observe rare fish from a distance of several meters, giving them the freedom to move about, and asked people to report sightings of rare animals or animals in distress at *3639.

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