Rare stingray takes a New Year bow
THERE is a New Year's baby at Living Coasts — a bluespotted ribbontail stingray.
The species is very rare in the UK and only a few zoos and aquariums have this type of stingray in their collections.
Torquay's coastal zoo is home to one male and two females, plus the pup which was born before Christmas and is thought to be female.
Aquarist Adam Johnstone said: "Aquariums find this species quite challenging and don't often breed them.
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"It has been difficult to track down specific husbandry details about how to raise the pup."
Stingray embryos develop inside eggs which are retained within the mother's body until they are ready to hatch.
The gestation period is uncertain, but is thought to be between four to 12 months.
Living Coasts operations manager Clare Rugg added: "The youngster is about 10 centimetres in diameter which is a third of the size of her parents, Trevor and Sandy.
"She has been moved to a nursery tank and is being fed on a variety of foods including live ragworms and fish."
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed the bluespotted ribbontail ray as Near Threatened.
Although still relatively common and widely distributed, its coral reef habitat is threatened by development and by destructive fishing practices.
The bluespotted ribbontail ray (Taeniura lymma) is found throughout the tropical Indian and western Pacific Oceans, often on coral reefs.
It can grow to be 35cm across, 80cm long and weighs five kilos.
It is capable of inflicting an excruciating wound with its venomous tail spines.