Easter’s come early for aquarists at the Bristol Aquarium in the shape of a baby ray that hatched out of its egg earlier this week.

The tiny thornback ray was hatched from one of more than 20 ray egg-cases which are currently being looked after by experts at the Harbourside attraction.

Now staff are waiting expectantly for the other eggs – a mixture of thornback and blonde rays – to start emerging over the coming days.

Bristol Aquarium curator, Dan de Castro, said: “All the egg-cases were collected from our open top ‘Bay of Rays’ display and put in to a special nursery tank.

“This is the first egg to actually hatch and the little ray has been moved to our seahorse display.

“Hopefully as the other egg-cases hatch out we will be able to transfer all the babies in to the display to create a ‘Baby Bay of Rays’ feature,” 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.

Blonde rays are so called because of their light body colour although they can in fact be quite dark, depending on the colour of the surrounding sea bed. They are covered in small dark spots that extend all the way to the edge of the body and often have larger rings on their wings.

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.