NEWPORT, KY (FOX19) - Newport Aquarium announced they welcomed nine shark ray pups Tuesday evening.
The aquarium says its pregnant shark ray, Sweat Pea, gave birth to six female and three male pups. The pups' weight ranged from 2.0 to 2.4 pounds, while their length ranged from 18 – 22 inches.
"All indications are that this was a successful birth," said Mark Dvornak, Newport Aquarium's general curator. "We are optimistic, but know the most challenging days are ahead, as the animal care team's focus shifts to closely attending to, and monitoring the shark ray pups."
Sweet Pea is now the only shark ray in the world with two documented pregnancies and births, according to the aquarium.
The successful delivery Tuesday will help the aquarium further advance their Shark Ray Breeding Program and long-term goal of sustaining the vulnerable species.
"The world's shark ray population is depleting at a faster rate than it's being replaced due to habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing and the use of their fins for products like fin soup," said Ric Urban, chief conservation officer at Newport Aquarium. "The knowledge gained from Sweet Pea's pregnancy and the pups' births have already proven valuable in gaining unprecedented scientific knowledge to help shark ray populations in the wild survive."
The pups will remain under constant observation at the aquarium's offsite animal health facility and will transition to the aquarium at a future date.