Ray of hope for endangered species

The leopard ray can't change its spots although the leopard shark changes its stripes into spots. Both have recently changed homes, though.

Sydney Aquarium at Darling Harbour has unveiled a new exhibit - the Tropical Bay of Rays - one of 14 exhibits set to be opened as part of the attraction's $10 million refurbishment program.

A team of aquarists has manoeuvred the aquarium's exotic marine rays into the Tropical Bay of Rays exhibit, a centralised tank surrounded by tropical palms and a pink illuminated sunset scene.

The exhibit will be home to a variety of unique species including the leopard whipray, the blue-spotted maskray, the blue-spotted fantail ray, the leopard shark and the white-spotted guitarfish.

This is the first time this colourful collection of animals – many of which are endangered or threatened – has been displayed together in the world.

These creatures all have unique markings. The leopard whipray has leopard-like spots and an elongated thin whip-like tail. Some have tails 3.5 times longer than their bodies. The blue-spotted maskray, on the other hand, is identifiable by its mesmerising electric blue spots. The blue-spotted fantail ray also has a long tail and blue spots on a sandy background.

Living alongside the stingrays is the leopard shark, which is immediately identifiable due to the striking large spots all over its back. This species is also known as the zebra shark as they are born with stripes.

The white-spotted guitarfish is also part of this unique collection of marine animals, with its three fins, guitar-shaped body and white spots.

The new area will give visitors a close-up glimpse into the lives of these strange and graceful creatures and will also offer a variety of interactive opportunities, including daily feeds and talks.

Follow Environment on Twitter

The story Ray of hope for endangered species first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop