Starting this month, the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky will open its shark ray exhibit -- the only shark ray on display in the Western Hemisphere.
This shark ray looks a lot like the one at the Newport Aquarium
Photo from the Underwater Times
- Shark rays are quite rare. They live in the Indo-Pacific oceans, especially in waters around Australia and Taiwan.
- They are rays, with gills on the underbelly, but with the more powerful body of a shark.
- They have horn-like ridges on their back, and large spiracles (breathing holes) just behind their eyes.
- Shark rays do not pose a threat to humans. They use their flat, "pavement-like teeth" to crush and eat crabs and other shellfish.
- Sweet Pea, pictured above, weighs forty pounds and is about four feet long. Shark rays can grow to be nine feet long.
- Sweet Pea was caught in a trap in Taiwan and was eventually acquired to live at the aquarium, in hopes of studying and helping to support conservation of this rare species.
- Shark rays are in a family which also includes guitarfishes. (I'm going to have to find out about those, too, someday.)
Newport Aquarium press release, "First shark ray in America tests the water at Newport Aquarium," June 8, 2005
Australian Museum Fish Site, Find a Fish, Shark Ray
American Museum of Natural History, Seminars on Science, "Sharks and Rays: Myth and Reality," Week 4, Nostrils of Shark Ray
Shark Ray Jaw, FossilsOnline.com