First shark ray pups to be born in captivity have died


The six pups born to Newport Aquarium's Shark ray Sweet Pea in January have all died.

Due to the lack of information on rearing the youngsters, which were the first Shark rays to be born in captivity, curator Mark Dvornak said staff knew that keeping them alive would be a challenge, and that everyone had been deeply saddened by the deaths.

The pups weighed 2.1 to 2.4 pounds at birth, but began to lose weight despite staff seeing them eating. Eventually the pups had to be tube fed to ensure they received nutrition. The last pup died around a month after being born.

"We are mourning the passing of the Shark ray pups," said Chris Pierson, director of husbandry operations at Newport Aquarium, based in Kentucky. "Our husbandry staff has poured its collective hearts into caring for these animals, working around the clock to give them every opportunity to develop. Since this is the first time shark rays have bred in captivity, we were in uncharted territory. The knowledge and experience that we’ve gained has been vast and will hopefully assist us in the future."

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