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Eagle Ray Pups Born at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: January 21, 2021 9:20 pm

eagle ray pups kelly tarltons

An eagle ray pup in its aquarium at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

Staff at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium in Auckland, New Zealand have been surprised by the birth of a fever (group) of eagle rays. Mother's Nibble and Spot gave birth to the pups but have not lived with a male for over two years.

The baby rays were born on New Year's Eve and are currently being monitored closely by the aquarists. The parents live in the Fish Tunnel display.

Another remarkable part of the birth is that both females gave birth at the same time on New Year's Eve and it was also exactly one year since Nibble gave birth to her last pups. The previous babies are on display in the Turtle Bay exhibit.

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Aquarists at Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium have two possible suggestions as to how the females may have given birth without a male.

“Whilst we were surprised to see Nibble and Spot give birth to pups because they haven’t been with a male in two years, it’s not completely unheard of. It could have occurred through a process called parthenogenesis, which is a rare reproductive strategy where an embryo develops without fertilization. Alternatively, Nibble and Spot could have stored sperm inside their bodies for the last two years. Sperm storage has been recorded in several shark and ray species, so we think this is the more likely scenario,” said Andrew Christie, Curator at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s. 

eagle ray pups kelly tarltons

An eagle ray pup in its aquarium at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

Eagle rays are a species of cartilaginous fish meaning they have skeletons made from cartilage instead of bone and they have a flat snout which resembles a ducks bill. They can be seen in the waters around New Zealand.

The pups will be remaining behind the scenes for the foreseeable future where they will grow on a healthy diet of mussels and fish fillets. While they have a barb to protect themselves the pups remain vulnerable to larger fish so will go on display in Turtle Bay once they have grown larger.

eagle ray pups kelly tarltons

An eagle ray pup in its aquarium at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

Learn more about SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium on their website – SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

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