A Shark Ray called Sweet Pea is the first to successfully give birth in captivity. The Newport Aquarium in Kentucky has been developing their Shark Ray breeding program (the first in the world) for the past seven years, and with Sweet Pea's help, they were successful on January 24th of this year.
Sweet Pea gave live birth to seven Shark Ray pups, six of which survived. There are three male pups and three female pups, which means that Newport Aquarium now has the largest collection of Shark Rays in the world - a grand total of ten. No other institution has more.
The IUCN recently reported that 1 in 4 of shark and ray species are at risk of extinction, and Shark Rays are considered to be a vulnerable species.
Shark Rays can be found in the Indo-Pacific region, and comparatively little is known about this remarkable and unique species. They are under threat from habitat destruction, pollution, and overfishing - their fins are used as the main ingredient in shark fin soup, and their large size and thorny skin make them a nuisance for fishing trawlers, because they damage the nets.
Shark Rays are also known as Bowmouth Guitarfish, for their distinctive shape. It is the sole extant member of the Rhinidae family. They feed primarily on crabs, molluscs, and bony fishes.
Shark Rays can grow up to 9 feet (2.7 m) in length and weigh up to 298 pounds (135 Kg).
Look how cute!