Doug and Spud’s new bundle of joy
DAYDREAM Island has welcomed what Living Reef manager Johnny Gaskell described as an Australia first.
The newest member to the team, a baby giant shovelnose ray (Glaucostegus typus), born in the Living Reef lagoons, is believed to be just the second to be born in captivity.
Long-term residents of the Living Reef “Doug” and “Spud” became parents on January 19 when marine biologist Nick Guinee found a yet-to-be-named baby in the shallows.
Measuring in at a healthy 34cm in length, the pup is expected to take seven years to mature to more than 1.5m.
Mr Gaskell said in early September 2017, the Living Reef biologists witnessed early signs of breeding behaviour among their population of adult giant shovelnose rays.
“Conditions to breed have to be perfect and similar to the wild, which is helped by the actual sea water being pumped through the Living Reef and imitation of their natural habitat,” he said.
The species is native to the warmer waters of the Indo-Pacific region, including the Whitsundays, and has become a vulnerable species and faces a high risk of extinction in the wild due to a diminishing population.
Mr Gaskell said this was likely the result of the species being targeted for fins and taken as by-catch.
The adult giant shovelnose rays have been living in the Living Reef for eight years and at the time were 1.7m in length.
Marine biologist Louise Kirk said the Living Reef ran a cognitive enrichment program which built on the natural learning and problem solving ability the giant shovelnose rays had in the wild.
GREAT NEWS: Living Reef marine biologists Nick Guinee, Lou Kirk and Johnny Gaskell. INSET: Ray pup.