UAE | Environment

Atlantis welcomes rare baby sea ray birth

Marine scientists caring for the baby 24 hours a day

  • By Derek BaldwinChief Reporter
  • Published: 23:30 November 9, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: DEREK BALDWIN/Gulf News
  • The Lost Chambers Aquarium at Atlantis the Palm are celebrating the rare birth in captivity of a spotted eagle ray at its Ambassador Lagoon in Dubai.

Dubai: The marine team at The Lost Chambers Aquarium at Atlantis the Palm are celebrating the rare birth in captivity of a spotted eagle ray at its Ambassador Lagoon in Dubai.

Believed to be only the second time on the planet that the species has successfully breeded in a controlled environment (the first baby spotted eagle ray was born in Berger Zoo, Arnhem, Netherlands), the birth is a strong sign that more of the rays can be bred to help preserve future generations of the picturesque marine animal.

Steve Kaiser, vice-president Marine Sciences and Engineering, told Gulf News on a tour of Atlantis nursery where the month-old baby ray is doing well, that the staff at the facility are excited about the new arrival.

“Eagle rays are very common in most tropical countries but breeding them doesn’t happen every day. We’re a very young facility and this is a big step for us,” Kaiser said.

Despite being bountiful in some countries, the spotted eagle ray is listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List.

The baby ray is part of a ray species that is native to the Gulf and is easily distinguishable from other rays given its dark surface punctuated with white spots.

And unlike some other rays, the spotted eagle ray has an interesting face that displays a great many things through the animals eyes and mouth.

“This one has a very nice face and is beautifully coloured,” Kaiser said as colleague Nastasha Christie, director of Small Exhibits at Lost Chambers suited up for a close-up examination of the baby ray.

Christie said under close constant daily monitoring, the newest addition at the nursery is faring quite well in her new surroundings.

“She is doing quite well,” Christie said. “This is a very important live birth for us because she is the first baby spotted eagle ray we have had.”

Christie said that the baby’s mother carried her offspring for up to 12 months.

Other spotted eagle rays are believed to have mated of the population of 20 at the facility and more births are expected at the aquarium perhaps in the new year, she said.

The baby ray’s unexpected birth is not the only good news at the aquarium.

Other babies have been born to marble rays and porcupine rays as well as 300 new seahorses born at the marine facility earlier this year and then released into the wild.

 

 

Box 1

Spotted Eagle Rays

• Near threatened on IUCN Red List

• Found globally in the tropics

• Found up to depths of 80m or 262ft

• Ovoviviparous - The female retained eggs, then released live young

• Dark with white spots

• Has several venomous barbs at the base of its tail.

• Eats fish and crustaceans

• Hunted by Sharks

• Daily movements influenced by tides with more activity in the deeper tides.

 

SOURCE: Atlantis The Palm Lost Chambers

 

Box 2

The facilities

• Atlantis The Palm contains more than 42 million litres of salt water

• The aquarium is home to more than 65,000 fish and sea creatures across 250 species

• A team of 165 full-time marine animal specialists oversee the animals 24 hours a day

• In total, staff have a combined 200 years of experience from marine institutes from around the world.

SOURCE: Atlantis The Palm Lost Chambers

Gulf News