Shark baby boom is in full swing at aquarium

A baby skate
A baby skate
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Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium is looking after a dozen newborn sharks and rays after an unexpected baby boom.

In the past few weeks two thornback skates, two bull huss sharks and eight catsharks have all hatched, and experts at the Southsea aquarium are confident more are on their way.

The sharks and rays are part of an ongoing captive breeding programme for both native tropical species.

Displays supervisor Martyn Chandler said: ‘Here at Blue Reef we are proud of our captive breeding successes.

‘However, even we have been surprised by the sheer number of offspring so early in the year and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight with more expected over the coming weeks.

‘Many of them will remain here at the aquarium while others will go to our sister aquaria throughout the UK.

‘Shark and ray species worldwide are facing an uncertain future so this baby boom is very welcome and is the perfect demonstration that conditions in our displays are just right.’

Thornbacks are the most common skate or ray in British waters and can grow up to 1.2 metres. The species gets its name from the coarse prickles which cover their upper body.

Despite being the UK’s commonest type of skate, it is still considered to be ‘near threatened’ in the wild, which means it may be threatened with extinction in the near future.

The bull huss – or nursehound – is a member of the catshark family.

It is usually found over rocky seabeds where the mottled appearance of the fish blends into the background.