Six rare endangered Blackchin Guitarfish have been born at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham, home to the UK’s only successful breeding couple for the species.

Recently discovered by members of the animal care team, the babies were found happily swimming around the sea floor in the aquarium’s Shark Lagoon.

The shark species are notoriously slow breeders meaning they struggle to produce offspring. Blackchin guitarfish parents who reproduce together have a higher and larger success rate, demonstrating that staff at the centre have created the ideal atmosphere for the couple to succeed.

“The team have been working tirelessly to ensure the environment is just right for breeding, so we’re ecstatic it’s paid off!’ says Jonny Rudd, Curator at the aquarium. “The babies and parents appear to be very healthy and active, it really is fantastic news for the species. With so many threats to Blackchin Guitarfish in the wild, these babies may one day provide a vital lifeline for the species.”

At no more than 21cm long, the little ones have a lot of growing to do, with adult Blackchin Guitarfish growing up to 1.8m long. The full-sized parents have continued to breed year-after-year since 2018, having successfully birthed more babies every time.

“All six babies are living in a specially created nursery under the watchful eye of our animal care team,” explains Jonny. “They are highly independent creatures from birth, and we’ll be examining their progress and development carefully.”

Threats to this species continue to grow in the wild with over-fishing and pollution at the core, making this breeding success a crucial milestone. Currently listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN red list, the species struggle to increase numbers due to their slow growth and low breeding rate. During the 18th century, Blackchin Guitarfish were amongst the most popular species in Southern Europe fish markets.

Visitors will soon be able to meet the baby guitarfish for themselves in the Behind the Scenes area at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham, where new tours will soon be returning for visiting guests. Further information and tickets to visit the aquarium are available online: www.visitsealife.com/birmingham.

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National SEALIFE Centre
Aquarium
National SEALIFE Centre

The National Sealife Centre Birmingham is home to over 2,000 magical creatures and the UK’s only 360 ocean tunnel! Come and be amazed by how these beautiful marine animals live day to day and get closer than you’d ever imagine.

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