April 13, 2016
A quartet of captive-bred rays are set to hatch out at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium over the coming weeks.
The small-eyed, or painted, rays’ egg-cases are part of a captive bred population and have been donated to the aquarium in the hope of establishing their own satellite breeding group.
The ray, which can grow up to 90 cms in length, gets its common name from its conspicuously small eyes. Usually found on sandy seabeds, the species will often cover itself with sand with just its eyes and spiracles above the surface.
Following an incubation period of up to seven months, the 10-centimetre-long babies emerge from the egg-case as perfect miniature replicas of the adults.
Blue Reef Aquarium’s Steve Matchett said: “Virtually every species of ray and shark is under increasing threat in the wild as they tend to reproduce relatively slowly and are subject to a variety of hazards including loss of habitat, pollution and over fishing.
“These captive-bred egg-cases will hopefully eventually form breeding colonies of their own and ease pressures on wild populations,” he added.
At the moment the egg-cases are on display in a special nursery tank at the aquarium. However once they have hatched out they will be transferred to one of the larger native marine displays.
Found from the British Isles to Morocco, the small-eyed ray is most commonly caught around the UK in the Bristol and English Channels.
The small-eyed ray is designated as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
A Near Threatened species is one which is considered to be under threat of extinction in the near future unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.
Since 2009 the species has been included in the EU Total Allowable Catch (TAC) quota.
Issued by Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information please contact Steve Matchett or Lara Mingay on 01637 878134.