Digital News Report- The Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco has welcomed the first newborn of 2009. The baby California Big Skate weighed in at 15 grams, measured 15cm and was greeted by the Aquarium of the Bay’s Husbandry department. In 2008 more than 100 California Big Skates were born at the Aquarium, which has been the leader in breeding skates for more than 10 years.
“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.”
Skates, a cousin fish to sharks and rays, are oviparous or egg-laying animals and when the female skate lays its egg in the wild, the young are left vulnerable to predators during the six to nine month development process. 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.
After about three months, parts of the egg case open, allowing seawater to flow through, and forming a protection zone for the animal versus a closed egg case. At the Aquarium of the Bay, aquarists cut a small window into the egg after this occurs and place a clear plastic covering over it. This allows 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, 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.