Love is in the water of the I&J Ocean Exhibit and the eagle rays are breeding! Visitors will surely have noticed the swollen bellies of the pregnant female rays - a bulge on their white undersides - and when they get close to the exhibit's window you may be lucky enough to spot their unborn young moving!
Eagle rays typically give birth every two years, after an almost year-long gestation, when they give birth to between four and seven live pups. That's right, eagle rays don't lay eggs like many other rays!
When baby rays are born at the Two Oceans Aquarium, they will first spend some time in our behind the scenes quarantine area to ensure they are healthy. They will then move to the "Ray Pool" in our Skretting Diversity Gallery when they weigh about half a kilogram, where the public can see them, and finally, they will move into the I&J Ocean Exhibit when they are older. Because of their slow growth rates and long lives (up to 25 years), they can spend some time growing in this exhibit. On a case-by-case basis, the eagle rays are released into the wild when aquarists determine that their size and behaviour indicates this is the best move for them - but as the breeding indicates, they are quite happy here for the early years of their lives!