Celebrations are underway at National SEA LIFE Bray following the birth of a baby Cownose Stingray.
This is the first tropical Stingray to be born at the National SEA LIFE Centre and believed to be the first ever born in Ireland. Atlantic Cownose Rays are listed as a ‘near threatened’ species and could face extinction in the future.
As the species matures very late in life, and females only go through one gestation period a year, the new baby has led to great excitement across SEA LIFE internationally.
The baby has yet to be named, but is a healthy size of 30cm long, and 680g in weight. She is believed to be a female but it is still a little early to tell for definite according to SEALIFE Managing Director Pat Ó Súilleabháin.
SEA LIFE have carefully orchestrated this breeding programme, taking in two pairs of male and female Cownose stingrays four years ago. SEA LIFE’s stingrays have only just recently reached sexual maturity, and excitement is high that already there has been a successful gestation and birth.
Only one of these pairs have bred, but hopes are high that more baby rays will be born in the coming years.
The SEA LIFE breeding programme was set up in order to get a better understanding of the stingrays breeding patterns, and what they need to thrive. This knowledge can then be applied to the management and protections of the wild population.
Pat Ó Súilleabháin says the baby has settled in to her new home extremely well: “She swims around with her Mum, Dad and her uncle and is very happy. She is also a curious little thing, and unusually for a ray so young, shows great interest in visitors, especially children. She comes right up to the edge of the tank to say hello.”
The Atlantic Cownose Ray is usually found along the Western Atlantic, from the Northern US to Brazil. They are a migratory species, journeying north in schools in early spring and moving south in the late autumn. They get their name from the similarities between the curved frontal lobes of their head and a cow’s nose.
SEA LIFE Bray has waited for four weeks to announce the birth of the newest member of their family, as they wanted to ensure the infant was healthy and thriving.
To celebrate her birthday, the National SEA LIFE Centre in Bray is launching The Stingray Adventure this Easter weekend, an exciting trail teaching visitors about how these gracious creatures are related to sharks and how they are oft-misunderstood.
See www.sealife.ie for more information. The National SEA LIFE Centre Bray is open 7 days a week from 10am.