Births of blackchin guitarfish at Nausicaá

Since 2009, more than 50 blackchin guitarfish have been born here.

New baby blackchin guitarfish born at Nausicaá in 2023

After the birth of four baby blackchin guitarfish Glaucostegus cemiculus in September 2022, 4 more baby guitar rays were born at Nausicaá on 2 June 2023.

The female, identified as pregnant by the keepers, had been isolated a few days earlier in a reserve tank. The spawners are the guitarfish that live in the Grand Bassin de la Haute Mer.

More than fifty babies have been born since the guitarfish arrived at Nausicaá, and in 2009 Nausicaá hosted the world's first reproductions of stingrays in an aquarium.

As the species is not very prolific, these new births are always very pleasing.

From the moment they are born, the babies are the focus of the keepers, who monitor their behaviour and diet. Babies weighing 150g at birth are isolated in a reserve tank so that they can be monitored more easily.

Did you know?

The female guitar ray is unique in having two uteruses! The mode of reproduction is viviparous aplacental, meaning that the embryo develops by feeding on the protein-rich mucus produced by the uterus.

So unlike other rays, such as the curly ray, which lays eggs in which embryos grow, the guitar ray gives birth to babies that are already formed and self-sufficient. It can give birth to one or two litters a year, each with up to 12 babies.

A conservation programme for blackchin guitarfish

These little blackchin guitarfish will be joining a partner structure in a few months' time. In fact, these births are part of a European conservation programme that will become an EEP, coordinated by Nausicaá. The aim is to preserve this species, which is classified as "critically endangered" on the IUCN red list due to overfishing and the deterioration of its habitat.

The births are recorded in a file and the role of the coordinator is to find a place for these young rays that encourages the genetic mixing required to maintain a healthy population.

Several hundred animals are born at Nausicaá every year. Since 2009, more than 50 blackchin guitarfish have been born here.

Blackchin guitarfish are found in the Mediterranean Sea and along the Atlantic coast from Portugal to South Africa. Threatened by overfishing and the deterioration of its habitat, the blackchin guitarfish is on the IUCN Red List. Furthermore, the blackchin guitarfish does not reproduce particularly abundantly, which adds to the threat to this species.

Ray or shark?

You may have already noticed, but the blackchin guitarfish has the particularity of moving in an undulating motion, like the sandbar sharks in the tank.

This distinguishes it from the other rays in the tank, such as eagle rays, Atlantic pygmy devil rays and manta rays. The blackchin guitarfish is half ray, half shark, and appears to be a mixture of ray for the front part of its body and shark for the rear part.

It is a benthic animal that lives at the bottom of the tank and also likes to hide in the sand to keep out of sight. However, it also swims close to the windows of the aquarium; at 1.50 m long, it's hard to miss!

Blackchin Guitarfish Glaucostegus cemiculus

Nearly 10 species of ray at Nausicaá

Whether in the giant high seas tank, the submerged forest, the touch tank or in the In the Eye of the Climate exhibition, there are plenty of rays at Nausicaá, representing the diversity of species of these close relatives of sharks.

Births at Nausicaá

Since 1991, Nausicaá's team of biologists has honed its expertise in breeding and reproduction, which helps to preserve the natural environment. Nausicaá's keepers work in the aquariological reserves on cutting coral and rearing jellyfish. They also collect fish eggs from the high seas tank.

Blackchin guitarfish born at Nausicaá

Little blackchin guitarfish (Glaucostegus cemiculus) are a regular sight at NAUSICAA.

This one was born in August 2018. At birth, the young measure around 35 centimetres. They are capable of feeding themselves straight away.

Since 2014, several dozen small rays have gone to other aquariums in Europe. NAUSICAA is the coordinator of the European breeding programme.