Shark ray dies in mating accident at aquarium

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A rare Shark ray has died at a public aquarium in the U.S. following a freak mating accident.

The female Shark ray (Rhina ancylostoma) had only been resident at Newport Aquarium's Shark Ray Bay for a few days when an over-enthusiastic suitor attempted to mate with her - but instead of biting down on her dorsal fin to hold her still, he bit her abdomen and she later died from internal bleeding.

Staff at the aquarium are said to be heartbroken. "This is just a very unfortunate, kind of a freakish thing," said its general curator Mark Dvornak.

The aquarium was hoping the new female would be part of a successful breeding project.

Newport Aquarium is located in Kentucky and has the largest collection of Shark rays on display in the world.

The Shark ray - also know as the Bowmouth guitarfish - is the only member of the family Rhinidae, and hails from the western Indo-Pacific. It can reach 2.7m/8.9' in length, with females larger than males. It's listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN due to fishing as well as habitat destruction and degradation. Females give birth to up to eleven pups, measuring 45-50cm/18-20" in length.

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