It was an eerie scene Tuesday on a beach in the Mexican state of Veracruz, as roughly 300 large stingray carcasses littered the shore.
The cause remains mysterious, and Mexican authorities are investigating. But some speculate that Chachalacas fishermen, who possibly captured the winged rays in nets, dumped them after failing to get a worthwhile price.
However, Chachalacas fisherman Jaime Vazquez told the BBC that fishermen would not do such a thing, and that in his 30 years as a fisherman he had never seen colleagues discard fish on the beach.
He said they would set free any unwanted catch.
What’s also mysterious is how so many stingrays could be captured at once if, in fact, they were. At least one environmental group has speculated on Imgur that seismic surveys played a role in the killing of so many sea creatures.
But local food vendor Adriana Loredo, in an Associated Press report, said she witnessed fishermen dumping the rays.
Which is odd because stingray flesh is edible. Loredo said chopped stingray wings are commonly served as snacks in Veracruz restaurants.
Stingray images are video screen grabs
Veracruz’s Environment Minister, Victor Alvarado Martinez, has asked federal authorities for help investigating the incident.
Stingrays are found worldwide in temperate seas, mostly in shallow coastal waters. They can measure 6-plus feet and can weigh more than 700 pounds.
They generally hide in the sand and ambush prey, and move across the sea floor with wing-like fins. The poisonous barbs on their tails are used mostly for self-defense.
Their status is listed as threatened, according to National Geographic.