Native Thornback, Blonde and Painted Rays
If you want to get really close to our creatures then you MUST pay a visit to the Rays. You’ll find them in the Bay of Rays, next to Coral Cave. You will get a chance to find out more about our Rays with talks and demos from our team of SEA LIFE experts.
Most of our Rays are adults at 5-7 years old. They are not dangerous and have no venomous barb on the tip of their tail. They cannot generate electricity. However, they do have quite sharp ridges and spikes on their topmost sides.
We do not allow our guests to touch the Rays because excessive touching of the Rays disrupts their protective slime coating. This coating is the fish’s first line of defence from external parasites and illnesses. It protects the animals’ wellbeing. Also, excessive handling is unnatural and potentially stressful.
We have had lots of success breeding our Rays and have even sent young Rays to other aquariums across the country. If you spot Rays in the tank with wounds on them it may be because of their mating practice whereby the male uses his claspers (either side of this tail) to clasp on to the female.
This wonderfully bizarre animal is called a Bowmouth Guitar Shark. Though it is classified as a Ray, really it is half Ray and half Shark! Rays evolved from Sharks but this species stopped somewhere in-between.
Known as a Ray Shark, the Bowmouth Guitar Shark is highly distinctive with a wide thick body, a blunt snout and a large shark-like dorsal and tail fins. There are multiple thorny ridges over its head and back, and it has dorsal color pattern of many white spots over a bluish gray to brown background, with a pair of prominent markings over the pectoral fins.
Bowmouth Guitar Sharks prefer sandy or muddy flats and areas adjacent to reefs, where they hunt for crustaceans, molluscs, and bony fishes. They are widely distributed in the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans.
They are typically encountered on or near the bottom of the sea bed, though on occasion they may be seen swimming well above it. They generally are more active swimmers at night.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed this species as Vulnerable; its sizable pectoral fins are greatly valued as food and it is widely caught by artisanal and commercial fisheries.