Giant Ray Arrives in Blackpool
The animal care team at SEA LIFE Blackpool welcomed a 1.5metre Jenkins Whiptail Ray, one of only three in Europe, to the centre’s 500,000 litre Ocean Display today.
The giant ray joined 20 sharks and an array of tropical fish in one of the UK’s largest tropical displays, where it will grow a further 50 centimetres to a whopping 2metres in width.
In preparation for the arrival of the new stingray, the team at SEA LIFE Blackpool underwent an intensive training programme to ensure they were kept safe from the rays famous and dangerous whip-like tail and barb.
Scott Blacker, curator at SEA LIFE Blackpool, said: “We’re used to regularly coming into contact with our tropical sharks including the 2.75metre sandbar shark and know how to read their behaviours to stay safe. This is our first large stingray and so in preparation for today’s arrival, the whole team was specially trained in how to handle and care for this amazing creature whilst staying safe themselves.
“The whip tail is approximately one metre in length and carries a 10cm barb which is the animal’s defensive weapon and can cause serious injury. The training programme will not only teach our expert diving team the correct handling for the animal but also what to do in the case of injury.”
Fed daily on a diet of squid, whiting, pouting and mackerel, the divers at the centre hope to be able to train the ray to come to the surface to take food from their hands and form part of the daily interactive talks and feeding times the centre runs.
Scott concluded: “A large part of our job, as well as caring for the animals, is to educate our visitors about them and the new ray will allow us to introduce the amazing underwater world of tropical rays, their feeding habits and the threats humans pose to them.”