The Virginia Aquarium announced its first newborn spotted eagle ray pup was born last week.
The aquarium is only the 10th institution accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to have a pup born at its facility. There are 240 accredited zoos and aquariums worldwide, according to the association’s website.
Spotted eagle ray reproduction is “exceedingly rare,” according to a news release from the aquarium. The animals are considered to be ‘near threatened’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and are included in a Species Survival Plan through the aquarium’s accrediting association.
Experts classify spotted eagle rays as ‘near threatened’ because of their rarity and low reproductive potential, according to Oceana, an international organization focused on oceans. The rays are not directly targeted by commercial fisheries but are sometimes accidentally caught alongside targeted species.
The ray’s gestation period ranges from six to 13 months. The newborn rays are born self-sufficient.
The newborn pup, who doesn’t yet have a name, was born to mother Sadana. There was another pup born shortly before but it did not survive. The aquarium said it’s not uncommon for rays to be pregnant with multiple pups but have few remain viable through birth.
The pup is in quarantine out of the exhibit area so staff can monitor its diet, behavior and welfare. It is receiving “additional nutritional support,” according to the aquarium.
The aquarium said it will announce a naming contest and the sex of the pup in the coming weeks.
Jessica Nolte, 757-247-4513, email@example.com
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