Sweet Pea and Sunshine are Pregnant
We're proud to announce that Sweet Pea and Sunshine, two of our female Shark Rays are pregnant. These are just the second and third documented cases of shark ray breeding under professional animal care.
The pregnancies were confirmed after our husbandry staff performed ultrasounds on Sweet Pea on October 1 and Sunshine on October 8. Newport Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Peter Hill, who conducted the ultrasounds, estimates Sweet Pea and Sunshine's due dates are within two to three months, with Sweet Pea expected to deliver first.
The public can still see Sweet Pea and Sunshine in the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit now through a to-be-determined time closer to their due dates, at which point they will be moved to Newport Aquarium's offsite animal health facility. Follow our blog for updates.
Newport Aquarium established the world’s first Shark Ray Breeding Program on Feb. 14, 2007,
when a male shark ray named Scooter was introduced to the 385,000-gallon Surrounded by
Sharks exhibit. The breeding program expanded in winter 2013 when Sunshine moved from the
Coral Reef tunnel to Surrounded by Sharks and a second male shark ray named Spike also was
introduced to the Aquarium’s signature exhibit. Seven years after beginning the Shark Ray Breeding Program Sweet Pea became the first shark ray to give birth while under professional animal care on January 24, 2014.
See our four 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.