NEWPORT, KY (FOX19) - Sweet Pea, a shark ray at Newport Aquarium, is now a proud mother of six.
The aquarium announced Wednesday that Sweet Pea, the first documented shark ray to breed in a controlled environment, gave birth to seven pups on Friday, Jan. 24.
Sweet Pea was housed at an offsite facility in Northern Kentucky during the birth. The first pup arrived at 12:25 a.m. Three females and three males survived the nearly five-hour birthing process, while a fourth female pup did not.
High-def surveillance cameras were installed at the offsite facility earlier in the week for aquarium officials to monitor Sweet Pea's progress online.
General Curator Mark Dvornak said he first noticed the pups at around 5:20 a.m. while checking the live video feed on his tablet from home. Dvornak sent an alert out to the rest of the staff, and by 5:35 a.m., biologists were on site monitoring the six newborn pups.
Aquarium officials said the pups' weight ranged from 2.1 to 2.4 pounds, while their length ranged from as long as 1 foot, 7.3 inches to as short as 1 foot, 6.4 inches.
The six new pups were made possible by Newport Aquarium's Shark Ray Breeding Program (SRBP), which was established in Feb. 2007.
Officials said Sweet Pea and her new newborn pups will go on exhibit at the aquarium on separate to-be-determined dates. Newport Aquarium now has ten shark rays in all.