Hip hip new rays boost at aquarium

Annual stock take at the Sealife Centre in Blackpool.  Pictured is Mel Conchie counting the cownose rays

Annual stock take at the Sealife Centre in Blackpool. Pictured is Mel Conchie counting the cownose rays

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Triple checking has ensured all the marine creatures are present and correct at Blackpool’s Sea Life centre.

The aquarium staff have spent recent weeks counting each and every resident of the Central Promenade attraction, totting up 2,623 creatures – up 671 from last year’s stock take – across 154 species.

Annual stock take at the Sealife Centre in Blackpool.  Mel Conchie and Michael Bond check the common starfish.

Annual stock take at the Sealife Centre in Blackpool. Mel Conchie and Michael Bond check the common starfish.

Among the new inhabitants are eight cownose rays in the Stingray Adventure tank, a new feature in 2015, plus a pair of undulate rays – a species found off the UK coast which is officially classified as ‘threatened’, one step away from being endangered.

Sea Life general manager Rachel Sipes said: “What creatures move in and out depends on what it is, and what other Sea Life centres and aquariums need.

“For example, seahorses we have to move to help keep good bloodlines in the breeding.

“The London Aquarium had two baby undulate rays, which we now have, to grow on to adults, and they’ll become part of our breeding programme, which is a great opportunity for us to protect these creatures.”

Annual stock take at the Sealife Centre in Blackpool.  Pictured is Mel Conchie  and Michael Bond at the shark tank.

Annual stock take at the Sealife Centre in Blackpool. Pictured is Mel Conchie and Michael Bond at the shark tank.

There were more than 60 births on-site this year, to species including jelly fish, seahorses and sharks, and it’s hoped there will be more additions to come.

“There are big sharks in our ocean display showing signs of breeding, the nurse sharks and black tip reef sharks, so we hope for babies from them this year,” Rachel added. “It’s a great sign we are doing things right, as creatures don’t mate if they are stressed or uncomfortable.”

The stock check takes place over four weeks, with each member of the display team being tasked with counting a specific tank, which is then recounted by two more staff.

“Our stock take is one of the most exciting occasions of the year for staff and helps us to understand how our population is growing and to keep track of the location of our inhabitants,” Rachel added.