Ray-ly confusing

By the Marine Life Park Vet Team

If you are unfamiliar with rays, they probably all look the same.

It can be confusing for us too; we have more than 100 rays from different species – the manta ray, shark ray, shovelnose ray, eagle ray and blue-spotted rays, just to name a few.

Dr. Komsin and aquarist Amanda performing a physical assessment on a cow-nose ray.
Dr. Komsin and aquarist Amanda performing a physical assessment on a cow-nose ray.

So how do we identify individual animals from  the same species? The solution is a microchip reading system that is similar to the one used for pet dogs.

Identifying individuals is important as we can monitor its condition and medical history in our electronic database. Together with the Curatorial Team, we perform routine health assessments every month on our rays to keep them in top condition. These assessments include a full body examination, blood tests and screening of skin samples for external parasites.

The aquarists holding rays in a temporary pen for vets to come and perform a check up.
The aquarists holding rays in a temporary pen for vets to come and perform a check up.

How do you spot a sick ray? Physical changes like frayed fins, discolouration or changes in skin texture can be indicative of disease. However, a sick ray is often spotted based on behaviour like changes in appetite, swimming pattern and the level of activity – all recorded and evaluated by us.

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