July 11, 2016
A species of native ray which is under threat in the wild has hatched out at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium.
The small-eyed, or painted, ray is part of a captive bred population which was donated to the aquarium in the hope of establishing their own satellite breeding group.
It is the first of four egg-cases to hatch, and aquarists are confident more will be born in the coming days.
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 Lara Mingay said: “The first egg-case hatched out over the weekend and the baby is doing well.
“They are extremely good at camouflaging themselves to protect against predators and this one is matching its body colour almost perfectly to the sandy bottom of the nursery display
“You can clearly see movement in the other egg-cases and we’re expecting more babies to emerge anytime now,” she added.
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 Melissa Hallam or Lara Mingay on 01637 878134.