Rare giant fish dies after washing up on Egyptian beach despite rescue attempts

Egypt's environment ministry has said that a rare ocean sunfish that washed up on a beach in southern Sinai had died, despite intensive efforts to rescue it.

The 2.1-metre long ocean sunfish, or mola, had been found alive on the shore of Abu Galoum with a crushed ventral fin, apparently as the result of an injury from another sea creature.

The ventral fins are used to control movement.

A large team of the ministry's nature reserve officials, environmental police and divers have been trying for four days to save the mola.

But the ministry said on Friday that all its efforts had not succeeded.

The fish had been moved into an aquarium on board a specialised ministry ship, and was being transported the Red Sea city of Hurghada for treatment. It had been checked every 30 minutes, the ministry said, but died en route.

"Medical examinations showed that the fish had been in severe fatigue after losing its abdominal fin," a statement by the ministry said late on Thursday.

Egypt's environment minister requested a preliminary medical report be drawn up on the reasons of the death, including all the rescue phases, to later be used for reference in similar emergency incidents.

The report will be delivered to a number of international organisations including the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Mola, which feed on jellyfish and small fish, are found in temperate and tropical oceans around the world. They are frequently seen near the surface but hardly ever each the shore.

Mola are often mistaken for sharks when their huge dorsal fins emerge above the water. They are, however, harmless to people.

The ocean sunfish is classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

(Photo: Egypt’s Ministry of Environment)

(Photo: Egypt’s Ministry of Environment)

(Photo: Egypt’s Ministry of Environment)


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