Six baby eagle rays were born sometime last night in the pool adjacent to the AfriSam Children’s Play Centre in the Aquarium. They will be moved to the Rays and Skates Exhibit in the Atlantic Ocean Gallery later today.
Aquarium staff moved the heavily pregnant female ray from the I&J Predator Exhibit to the AfriSam pool on 3 March as she was expected to give birth any moment. This move was carried out to prevent the sharks from eating the new-born rays.
Eagle rays normally give birth to between three and seven live young after a twelve-month gestation period.
Eagle rays are found in the Mediterranean, the eastern Atlantic and around the Cape south coast to KwaZulu-Natal. They are often caught in trawlers’ nets at depths of up to 95m.
Like sharks, rays have cartilaginous skeletons. Rays are bottom-dwellers which use camouflage and toxic spines or electric shocks to defend themselves against predators.
Though they do not pose a threat to humans, eagle rays have a poisonous spine on their tails that can cause painful wounds. Eagle rays have a lifespan of up to 20 years and can weigh between 20 to 25kg.