Newport Aquarium

'Sweet Pea' is First Shark Ray to Give Birth in Captivity

2 sharkray

Kentucky's Newport Aquarium has announced that Sweet Pea, the first documented Shark Ray to breed in a controlled environment, gave birth to seven pups on January 24! Coincidentally, Sweet Pea's pups arrived during the same week as an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report estimating that one in four shark and ray species are at risk of extinction. Shark Rays are considered a vulnerable species. 

With Sweet Pea housed at an offsite facility in Northern Kentucky, the first pup arrived at 12:25 a.m. ET. A total of three females and three males survived the nearly five-hour birthing process, while a fourth female pup did not. Newport Aquarium now has 10 shark rays in all, which is the most in the world from any one institution.

1 sharkray

3 sharkray

4 sharkrayPhoto credits: Newport Aquarium / Justin Cain (4-8)

See a video from the birth:


See a video of the pups:


Three high definition surveillance cameras were installed at the offsite facility earlier in the week to monitor Sweet Pea’s progress. With this technology, Newport Aquarium officials had the ability to remotely watch Sweet Pea online.

General Curator Mark Dvornak first noticed the pups at around 5:20 a.m. while checking the live video feed on his tablet from his home. He immediately sent an alert out to the rest of the husbandry staff and by 5:35 a.m. biologists were on site monitoring the six newborn pups.

“Seeing the live video feed of the small pups swimming around was a bit surreal this morning,” said Dvornak. “Racing into work, I felt a bit of trepidation too as I realized our seven-year dream of successfully breeding these wondrous creatures had become reality.”

See and read more after the fold!

Continue reading "'Sweet Pea' is First Shark Ray to Give Birth in Captivity" »

Tiny Cuttlefish Babies Abound at Newport Aquarium

C ruler 2

Kentucky's Newport Aquarium has a bundle of new arrivals in the form of many baby Cuttlefish. What's a Cuttlefish? It belongs to the same class as squids and octopuses. Regardless of the word "fish" in their name, they are actually mollusks, living mostly in shallow waters -- though they are known to reside in deeper areas as well. They are found along the coasts of east and south Asia, western Europe, the Mediterranean, as well as all coasts of Africa and Australia. 

Cuttlefish come from eggs, the cases of which progress from dark and opaque to light and nearly clear as they approach hatching stage.

C egg 2 720

For keepers, seeing the newly hatched cuttlefish eating (below) is very important, because it is the main marker that the babies are healthy and will grow. One of the small fish they eat as babies is brine shrimp.

Once fully grown, their preferred diet consists of crabs and fish. They have the ability to use camoflage to sneak up on their prey. When they get close, their eight arms open up and shoot out two long feeding tentacles. On the end of each is a sucker-covered pad that attaches to prey and pulls it toward them.

C eating fish 2

C 2 cu 720
Photo Credit: Dr. Jerry Carpenter

See more Cuttlefish pictures after the fold:

Continue reading "Tiny Cuttlefish Babies Abound at Newport Aquarium" »