NEWPORT, Ky- Shark rays born at Newport Aquarium on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, are doing well according to the animal care team at the aquarium. From the time the shark ray pups were first born they have received care from biologists who have closely monitored them and attended to every need. Today, the pups are eating on their own and continue to gain weight. See the shark ray pups being weighed, measured and fed in this video:
Pregnant shark ray, Sweet Pea, gave birth to nine shark ray pups at Newport Aquarium. Six female and three male pups were born. The pups’ weight ranged from 2.0 to 2.4 pounds, while their length ranged from 18 – 22 inches. Shortly after birth, one female shark ray pup passed away, which is not uncommon with similar species, like sharks. Eight pups are healthy and continue to show progress by independently eating and gaining weight.
Sweet Pea Update
Since shark rays do not tend to their offspring, Sweet Pea has returned to the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit. The pups remain under constant observation at the aquarium’s offsite animal health facility and will transition to the aquarium and other Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited institutions at a future date. Watch Sweet Pea’s return into to the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit:
See Rare and Exotic Shark Rays at Newport Aquarium- Kids Get in Free through February 28, 2016. Four shark rays are currently on exhibit at Newport Aquarium- Sweet Pea, Scooter, Sunshine and Spike.
Shark Ray Breeding Program Background
In October 2015, Newport Aquarium announced both its female shark rays, Sweet Pea and Sunshine were pregnant– the second and third documented cases of shark ray breeding under professional animal care in the world. Sweet Pea became the first documented shark ray to become pregnant in 2013. In January 2016, Sweet Pea gave birth to 9 shark ray pups. Sunshine’s pregnancy did not come to full term.
Programs like Newport Aquarium’s Shark Ray Breeding Program are important, because the world’s shark ray population is depleting at a faster rate than it’s being replaced. This is due to habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing and the use of their fins for products like fin soup.
Newport Aquarium has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since May 15, 1999. Named one of the best aquariums in the U.S. by Travel Channel and USA Today, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.