National Juvenile Ray Nursery
Blackpool SEA LIFE Centre has become the UK's first national juvenile ray nursery, as part of a new breeding programme aimed at protecting Britain’s native ray population. The new nursery facility is specially designed to nurture baby rays from infancy through to adulthood.
The expert aquarists at the SEA LIFE Centre will care for and monitor the progress of the babies which will live in the facility until they reach maturity in 12 months’ time. The new nursery is currently home to 45 nine month old baby Thornback rays which each measure 15cm in length and will grow up to one metre and weigh up to 4kg.
Once mature the rays (or skates) will be transported to SEA LIFE Centres across Europe as part of the on-going breeding programme, which aims to produce enough captive-bred rays to keep aquariums stocked with these incredible creatures.
The breeding programme aims to breed all types of native ray but particularly the rare and endangered undulate ray which can now only be found off the south coasts of England and Ireland. Apart from the seriously threatened giant skate, the undulate ray is the scarcest of the species living around the UK and officially classed as endangered.
The few undulates found in the English Channel and off the south-west coast of Ireland are at the most northerly edge of their range, but numbers have been declining for many years. Since 2009 fisherman operating in EU waters have been obliged to return any they catch safely back to the sea, and it has been illegal to capture them for aquariums.
Come, join us and learn all about the wonderful world of rays. A member of our experienced animal care team will give you all the details on rays and why we are the National Centre for juvenile rays.