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Deep Sea World, Scotland’s national aquarium, is celebrating the arrival of dozens of rare baby rays.
So far no fewer than 24 baby thornback and undulate rays have hatched out at the North Queensferry wildlife attraction this week, with more expected to arrive over the coming days.
Both the thornback and the undulate rays are native to British waters. The thornback is officially classified as ‘Near Threatened’ in the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species while the undulate ray is classed as ‘Endangered’ which means it faces a very high risk of extinction in the near future.
Deep Sea World’s Displays Supervisor Michael Morris said: “All the ray egg-cases were originally collected by hand by our dive team within the large Shark display earlier this year.
“They were then transferred to our quarantine area where they have been able to develop safely away from the attention of any potential predators.
“It’s unusual to have quite so many eggs hatching out in such a relatively short time period but it will allow us to be able to provide our sister aquariums with captive-bred rays for the future,” he added.
Thornbacks are the most common ray in British waters and can grow up to 1.2 metres in length.
The species gets its name from the coarse prickles which cover their upper body.
Despite being the UK’s commonest type of ray, it is still considered to be ‘Near Threatened’ in the wild which means it may be considered threatened with extinction in the near future.
Also known as the painted ray, the undulate ray is one of the most distinctive rays to be found in UK water. This species is patterned with long, wavy, dark lines edged with white spots that run parallel to the wing margins.
In 2007 the fish was included in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and in 2009 it received full protection from the European Council meaning that it cannot be retained or landed if accidentally caught by fishermen.
Deep Sea World currently contributes to a UK aquarium-based monitoring programme for undulate rays, and it is hoped these juvenile rays will provide additional individuals to boost the captive breeding programme in the years ahead.

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