A fever of three Cownose Rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) has been introduced to the tropical display at Bristol Aquarium.
The female rays are on loan from the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, where they were captive bred, to grow in the city centre aquarium’s 350,000 litre tropical tank.
Cownose Rays are named so because they have an enlarged head, which resembles the nose of a cow! They have a poisonous sting barb; however they are quite timid creatures so will only use this weapon if they feel threatened.
Mark Iwachiw, Assistant Curator at Bristol Aquarium commented: “We are really pleased to work alongside fellow zoos and aquariums to provide suitable homes for animals, it’s one of the rewarding parts of my job.
“The rays look beautiful in the tank, spending most of their time gracefully swimming around. They are quite different to our other species, and it’s great to be able to offer another species for visitors to admire.” He added.
The Cownose Rays at Bristol Aquarium are currently around 30 – 40cm from fin tip to fin tip. They are each one to two years old and will continue to grow until maturity around 5years when they can reach up to 1.2metres. Cownose Rays are known to live until around 16 – 18 years in total.
Found in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Caribbean, they are classed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as they are often a caught as a by-catch by fishermen as they regularly swim close to the surface of the water.
Bristol Aquarium is home to thousands of animals, native to waters across the World. The tropical display houses many different colourful shoaling fish species, alongside eels, sharks, pufferfish and now rays too! The display can be seen from many different view points including an underwater tunnel and an immersive floor to ceiling window for visitors to enjoy.