Yarmouth Sea Life Centre’s Thornback rays enjoy a baby boom

Seven thornback ray babies have provided a mini winter baby boom at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre.

Seven thornback ray babies have provided a mini winter baby boom at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre. - Credit: photo-features.co.uk

Seven thornback ray babies have provided a mini winter baby boom at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre.

Seven thornback ray babies have provided a mini winter baby boom at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre.

Seven thornback ray babies have provided a mini winter baby boom at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre. - Credit: photo-features.co.uk

All have hatched out in the last few weeks from eggs known as Mermaid's Purses, which their mothers produced last summer.

Currently between 10 and 12 centimetres long they are attracting lots of interest from visitors, especially when they attach themselves to the glass sides of their nursery tank.

'People mistake their nostrils, which are just above their mouths on their undersides, as eyes which can fool them into thinking thy are looking at little smiling faces,' said curator Christine Pitcher.

It will take them around two years to grow big enough to join around 30 adult rays in the centre's open-topped sandy-seabed display, where they could live for 15 years and reach over a metre long.

Thornbacks are the most prolific of the 13 ray and skate species found in UK waters, and get their name from sharp spines on their upper bodies…particularly along the length of their narrow tails.

A popular food fish, it is generally thornback ray which is served up in fish and chip shops labelled rock salmon.

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Worries about a decline in the population have led to them being classified as near threatened and to a tagging project being launched off the North Wales coast to try and learn more about their movements and survival prospects.

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