Spotted Eagle Ray Now On Exhibit at the Texas State Aquarium
June 6, 2018
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – A female spotted eagle ray named Reina (Spanish for “queen”) is the newest addition to the Texas State Aquarium’s Caribbean Journey experience.
Reina will share the 400,000-gallon H-E-B Caribbean Sea exhibit with a variety of other species, including other stingray species like cownose and southern rays as well as porcupinefish and sandbar sharks.
The eagle ray currently weighs about 30 pounds and boasts a four-foot wingspan, and Aquarium staff say she could grow much larger – spotted eagle rays can sometimes grow to a wingspan of 11 feet and 400 pounds.
Reina has been trained by Aquarium staff to both hand feed and to “target feed,” where she grabs her food off a pole at a certain signal. Several times a day, the eagle ray receives an auditory stimulus, or unique noise, to let her know when her food is ready. She then approaches a red-striped target, where she’s given razor clams, shrimp, squid, capelin, herring or sardines directly from Animal Care staff. Her caretakers say she’s very smart and has quickly acclimated to this new feeding process.
Reina first arrived in Corpus Christi in April from the Florida Keys Dynasty Aquarium to begin a gradual acclimation process, spending several weeks in quarantine. After several regular examinations were completed to ensure she was healthy and free of disease, she was then introduced to H-E-B Caribbean Sea. Staff monitored her carefully during her first few days on exhibit to ensure she was eating.
Spotted eagle rays are a “Yellow” species in the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP), meaning they have less than 90 percent gene diversity through the next 100 years. The reproduction of SSP program species is managed and encouraged at AZA facilities to strengthen gene diversity. If a viable male eagle ray candidate arrives in the future, the Aquarium may pursue a breeding plan. The natural features of H-E-B Caribbean Sea, including the introduction of natural sunlight, seem to have already motivated some of its other aquatic species to begin breeding.
For now though, the Aquarium said it is focusing on caring for Reina and helping her adjust to her new surroundings. Reina is on exhibit for guests to see during all of the Aquarium’s regular hours.
The Texas State Aquarium is open daily. Parking is included in your admission price. To purchase tickets in advance and skip the line or to learn more about exhibits, hours and other visitor information, visit www.texasstateaquarium.org.
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