Our aquarists discovered three baby eagle rays in the I&J Predator Exhibit today, 14 March 2011. We suspect that the mother gave birth either last night or early this morning. While there may have been others (eagle rays normally give birth to between three and seven pups), the three babies were safely removed from the exhibit and taken to a holding facility in quarantine.
Although they look just like smaller versions of the adults, they seem to have extraordinarily long tails, but obviously this is in proportion to their small bodies.
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 that 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.