Easter Eggs at Newport Aquarium

With Easter just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at just how many eggs there are to be found at the Newport Aquarium! From shark eggs to turtle eggs, there is no shortage of the beginning stages of life here at the aquarium. As we go through our eggventure, we will be guided along the way by Scott, one of the biologists, as he shares fun facts and takes us behind the scenes for a look into the incubation rooms.  Scott has been with the aquarium for 19 years and is considered an expert on shark eggs. He was featured in a Takeover Tuesday blog post about Shark Central.

Scott Brehob, Aquatic Biologist

Aquatic Biologist, Scott, was featured in a previous blog post for Takeover Tuesday in Shark Central.

Starting off our eggtastic festivities are our Eastern Collared Lizards:

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Eastern Collared lizards, also known as the common Collared Lizard can be found in North America. Eastern Collared lizards lay a clutch of up to 14 eggs in the spring and summer months. Collared lizards As seen above, these particular collared lizard eggs were laid on February 20th, and due to hatch April 21st!

Fun Fact: Did you know collared lizards are the state reptile of Oklahoma?   Male collared lizards are identified by their bright blue and green coloration while females are a mix of gray and brown. You can find our Eastern Collared Lizard as you venture through Gator Alley!

Anthony’s Poison Arrow Frog:

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Anthony’s Poison Arrow frogs are currently listed as near threatened by the IUCN. When females lay their eggs, they usually lay them on the floor of their environment, or on a large leaf.  This is when the male’s role as a parent becomes prominent.  It is now his job to guard the eggs until they hatch.

Port Jackson Shark:

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The beginning stages of life for a Port Jackson shark look just as unique as they do fully-grown. Port Jacksons are oviparous, which means that they lay eggs instead of giving live birth.

Leopard Catshark:

Leopard Catsharks are one of the few species of sharks that lay eggs.  In the picture below, it appears as though the catshark is asleep or possibly even dead, however that is not the case.

CatShark1The catshark is actually in the process of laying her eggs, which come out in twos. When they lay eggs you will notice that there are curly tendrils on each end of the pouch, known as a “mermaid purse”. The tendrils assist in anchoring the egg which secures it to the ocean floor.

Henkel’s Leaf-Tailed Gecko:

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Leaf tailed geckos hail from Madagascar. They are currently listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and are considered a vanishing species.


Newport Aquarium confirms its two female shark rays are pregnant

First three cases of shark ray breeding under professional care have occurred at Newport Aquarium

NEWPORT, Ky.Newport Aquarium announced Wednesday its two female shark rays, Sweet Pea and Sunshine, are both pregnant – the second and third documented cases of shark ray breeding under professional animal care in the world.

“This is an exciting next step in realizing the goals of our Shark Ray Breeding Program,” said Eric Rose, executive director at Newport Aquarium. “Still, pregnancy is not without risk, so we are cautiously optimistic that both Sweet Pea and Sunshine will give birth to healthy shark ray pups. Newport Aquarium is dedicated to the conservation of these threatened animals and we remain committed to sharing the shark rays’ story of survival.”

Newport Aquarium animal husbandry staff confirmed the pregnancies after performing ultrasounds for Sweet Pea on Oct. 1 and Sunshine on Oct. 8. Newport Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Peter Hill, who conducted the ultrasounds, estimates Sweet Pea and Sunshine’s due dates are within two to three months, with Sweet Pea expected to deliver first. The equipment used to conduct the ultrasounds was on loan from the FETCH-LAB at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Allied Health Sciences.

Sunshine ultrasound

Newport Aquarium staff perform an ultrasound on Sunshine the shark ray on Oct. 8, 2015.

Shark rays are a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, one level from endangered. Threats to shark rays include habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing and the use of their fins for products, including shark fin soup.

“With the world’s shark ray population depleting at a faster rate than it’s being replaced, the Shark Ray Breeding Program is important because it helps us better understand the life cycle of shark rays and closely related species,” said Ric Urban, chief conservation officer at Newport Aquarium. “The knowledge gained from this program will be valuable information for the sustainability of shark ray populations in the wild.”

The public can still see Sweet Pea and Sunshine in the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit now through a to-be-determined time closer to their due dates, at which point they will be moved to Newport Aquarium’s offsite animal health facility in Northern Kentucky.


A screenshot from Sunshine’s ultrasound performed on Oct. 8, 2015, reveals a developing shark ray pup, measuring 10.51 centimeters (4.14 inches).

Newport Aquarium established the world’s first Shark Ray Breeding Program on Feb. 14, 2007, when a male shark ray named Scooter was introduced to the 385,000-gallon Surrounded by Sharks exhibit. The breeding program expanded in winter 2013 when Sunshine moved from the Coral Reef tunnel to Surrounded by Sharks and a second male shark ray named Spike also was introduced to the Aquarium’s signature exhibit.

Nearly seven years after Newport Aquarium established the Shark Ray Breeding Program, Sweet Pea became the first shark ray to give birth while under professional animal care on Jan. 24, 2014.

For more information on Newport Aquarium, visit NewportAquarium.com or call toll free 800-406-FISH (3474). Connect with Newport Aquarium on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to its blog, for the most up-to-date news regarding the shark ray pregnancies.


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.

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