Bristol Aquarium has been inundated with baby rays in recent weeks.

So far the Harbourside wildlife attraction has hatched 22 thornback rays, with more due to emerge in the coming days.

The captive-breeding programme for the native fish, which can grow up to 1.2 metres in length, is proving so successful they are re-locating the babies to other aquariums throughout the UK.

Bristol Aquarium’s Paul Strachan said: “All the ray egg-cases have been collected by hand by divers in our giant ‘Shipwreck display’.

“They were then taken 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 successfully in such a relatively short time period but it is allowing us to be able to provide other aquariums with captive-bred fish,” 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.

Rays belong to the same family as sharks and are effectively ‘flattened-out’ versions of their close cousins. UK waters are home to at least 15 different species including the electric ray and the common skate, which can reach lengths of up to three metres.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information and to arrange picture/ filming opportunities please contact Tina Patel, David Waines or Dan de Castro on 0117 929 8929.