Now you can see 4 Shark Rays on display in the Newport Aquarium’s Surrounded By Sharks Exhibit
! Extremely rare Shark Rays Sweet Pea, Scooter, Sunshine and Spike will win you over with their human-like eyes, and breathtaking grace.
The name Shark Ray, (Rhina ancylostoma), alludes to its appearance. The front section is broad like a ray with prehistoric ridges along the head, while the back section resembles a shark with dual dorsal fins.
Like sharks and rays, they have a skeleton made of cartilage. A Shark Ray’s mouth is equipped with very strong jaws that are covered in small rounded teeth. The strong jaw and teeth are extremely effective in crushing the hard shells of animals such as crabs and lobsters, their favorite foods.
Meet our Shark Rays on display in our Surrounded By Sharks Exhibit:
- Sweet Pea – In 2005, Newport Aquarium made history by becoming the first aquarium in the Western Hemisphere to display our first Shark Ray, Sweet Pea.
- Scooter – Added in 2007, to create the world’s first Shark Ray Breeding Program.
- Sunshine – Arrived at Newport Aquarium in 2009, and was on display in our Coral Reef Exhibit before transferring to the Aquarium’s off-site research holding facility. She has now joined the rest of the Shark Ray group in the Surrounded By Sharks Exhibit.
- Spike – Our newest member of the Shark Ray group. He weighs just over 200 pounds and is the second male added to the group.
Shark Ray Breeding Program
Due to lack of knowledge and the fact that Shark Ray fins are highly desired as food in certain cultures, there is concern as to what is happening with their numbers in the wild. In 2007, Newport Aquarium began the Shark Ray Breeding Program with the introduction of our first male Shark Ray into the exhibit. Although the successful breeding of the Shark Rays is the main goal of the program, much valuable information is being gathered with regards to the general biology of this species.
On Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, in a historic biological achievement, Sweet Pea, the first documented shark ray to breed in a controlled environment, gave birth to seven pups.
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of all seven shark ray pups over the course of a month with the last passing on Monday February 24. The Newport Aquarium husbandry staff poured its collective hearts into caring for these historic animals and worked around the clock to give them every opportunity to develop. Being the first time shark rays have bred in captivity this was uncharted territory, and the knowledge and experience gained is vast. This knowledge will be able to assist the Newport Aquarium well into the future of the Shark Ray Breeding Program.