Threatened small-eyed ray hatches at Newquay aquarium

Small-eyed ray and eggcase The species can grow up to 3ft in length and is classified as 'near threatened'.

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A species of ray which is threatened in the wild has hatched at an aquarium in Newquay.

The small-eyed ray is found off the coasts of south-west England, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal.

The eggs came from the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth and hatched at the Blue Reef Aquarium.

The species can grow up to 3ft (1m) in length and is classified as 'near threatened' by the the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

'Over-exploitation'

In UK waters the species breeds during the summer months, producing up to 60 eggs a year - but only a small percentage reach adulthood.

The eggs, which are often washed up empty on beaches, and are known as mermaids' purses, have two long horns and are about 4in (10cm) long.

They take about seven months to hatch.

A spokesperson from the aquarium said: "The status of the small-eyed ray in UK waters is uncertain.

"It is potentially vulnerable to over-exploitation due to its relatively small geographic distribution and its localised abundance in specific areas."

They added the ray was mainly caught as "by-catch", where species are caught by mistake by fishermen.

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