UK's first Cownose ray spawning
The Oceanarium in Bournemouth says it's the UK's first public aquarium to successfully breed a species of Cownose ray, after two adult female rays gave birth to a pup within quick succession.
The baby rays were born in early December and already boast a 20cm wingspan.
Marine Biologist Oliver Buttling said: "We have a great track record for the captive breeding of sharks, seahorses and southern stingrays, so we are extremely proud to add cownose rays to our successes. Captive breeding not only shows that the creatures are happy in their environment and behaving as they would do in the wild, but also helps reduce the demand on wild populations."
Cownose rays, which belong to the Mylobatidae subfamily Rhinopterinae are gregarious fishes in live in large shoals which migrate long distances. As a result, the Oceanarium keeps them in a large group and has had a school at the facility since 1998 when the rays were just one year old.
Since this is believed to be the first UK spawning of Cownose rays, the Oceanarium liaised with experts at a public aquarium in Chicago who had already successfully bred the species.
Said Buttling: "We are incredibly excited that our continued care for the school of rays over the last eight years has resulted in the first captive bred cownose ray births in the UK, and we have high hopes that these will be the first of many."