Aquarium of the Bay Welcomes Its First Newborn Skate of the Year

January 19, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire/ — The first newborn of 2009, weighing in at 15 grams and measuring 15cm, confidently poked its way out and was greeted by its new team of skilled parents — Aquarium of the Bay’s Husbandry department. The newborn California Big Skate is thriving proof of the successful in-house breeding and care programs at Aquarium of the Bay.

For more than 10 years, Aquarium of the Bay has been a leader in breeding skates, a cousin fish to sharks and rays. In 2008 alone, more than 100 California Big Skates were born at the Aquarium. In contrast to most sharks and rays, skates are oviparous or egg-laying animals. In the wild, once the female skate lays its egg, the young are left vulnerable to predators, including the Giant Pacific Octopus, while they develop for six to nine months. At Aquarium of the Bay, aquarists dive twice daily, collecting the eggs from the exhibit, tagging them and putting them behind the scenes in an underwater nursery.

“Our husbandry team constantly monitors our California Big Skates to improve their development, living and breeding conditions,” said John Frawley, CEO, Aquarium of the Bay. “We are especially pleased that the success of this program has enabled us to be a resource to supply skates to other aquariums and nature centers across the country.”

After approximately three months, parts of the egg case open, allowing sea water to flow through, and forming a protection zone for the animal versus a closed egg case. Once this occurs, aquarists cut a small window into the egg and place a clear plastic covering over it, allowing visitors to watch the animals develop. The window does not harm the young and they develop normally. The skate egg display will be a part of the new PG&E Bay Lab www.aquariumofthebay.com/newsroom.aspx?q=38&y=0&c=1, opening in April. In the meantime, visitors who participate in the Aquarium’s behind the scenes tours have the opportunity to see the developing animals and even touch the egg cases.

Once hatched, the skates are kept behind the scenes to develop for approximately one year or until they are ready to join the other animals in the Aquariums touch pools or main exhibits. Aquarium of the Bay also donates skates to local aquariums and nature centers including Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center and Seymour Marine Discover Center, thus helping decreasing the need to removes skates from the wild for studying and observing these unique and graceful animals.

About Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay is a unique nature center dedicated to inspiring conservation of San Francisco Bay and all marine environments. It is the only aquarium focused on the aquatic life and ecosystems of the Bay and surrounding waters. The Aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and certified as a Green Business by the city of San Francisco. Learn more at www.aquariumofthebay.com.

Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link.

John Frawleyhttp://profnet.prnewswire.com/Subscriber/ExpertProfile.aspx?ei=76850

Christina Slagerhttp://profnet.prnewswire.com/Subscriber/ExpertProfile.aspx?ei=76851

SOURCE Aquarium of the Bay

Source: newswire

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