This holiday season, one of the world’s rarest rays – the ornate eagle ray – will make its debut at Resorts World Sentosa S.E.A Aquarium. The endangered species is the first of its kind to be featured in zoos and aquariums worldwide. You and your loved ones can look forward to learning more about this strikingly beautiful but elusive animal at Resorts World Sentosa S.E.A Aquarium’s annual Merry Fishmas celebrations.
From 1 to 31 December, S.E.A. Aquarium transforms into a water wonderland with sparkling displays, interactive activities, Scuba Santa and Elves’ underwater adventures and more. In addition to the educational and fun festivities for the whole family, you can embark on a trail to spot five of the aquarium’s latest additions: the ornate eagle ray, Argentine humphead, Mauritius triggerfish, honeycomb cowfish and bat ray.
The most iconic amongst the newest residents is the ornate eagle ray (Aetomylaeus vespertilio), a shy sea creature known for its distinct pattern of reticulate dark lines and rings on its back. Together with its whip-like tail, the ray can measure up to 5m, with a wing span of up to 240cm. S.E.A. Aquarium’s male ray arrived in August this year and can be found at the Shipwreck Habitat, along with other threatened species such as the shark ray, green sea turtle and hawksbill turtle.
Mr Jason Horkin, Senior Vice President of Attractions, Resorts World Sentosa, said: “The ornate eagle ray is indeed an extremely rare and precious wonder in our marine life collection. We are pleased it has settled comfortably into its new home at S.E.A. Aquarium and has even responded positively to our aquarists during feeding sessions. There’s so much to learn about the ornate eagle ray: little is known about this species and we plan to study as much as we can to broaden our scientific knowledge and understanding and support the conservation of this rare beauty. In the long run, we hope to collaborate with reputable institutions to introduce females to our male ray to kickstart the world’s first conservation breeding programme for this species under human care.”
The ornate eagle ray is listed as “Endangered” in the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species. The main threat to the species is accidental capture by fishermen in the waters of Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Taiwan and Thailand. In addition, the species has a low reproduction rate.
In addition to the new fishy residents, crowd favourites such as Scuba Santa and Elves will make a comeback with their cheeky underwater antics as they dive amongst sharks, majestic manta rays and hundreds of schooling fish to provide special enrichment treats for the animals. You can also observe up-close the aquarium’s male giant Pacific octopus during feeding time as it uses its tentacles to reach out for hidden treats in a box – a perfect enrichment toy for these highly intelligent animals.
You can learn more about the growing plastic pollution problem at conservation booths. Those who wish to play a more active role in ocean conservation can sign up for the new Guardians of the S.E.A.A. membership at S$8 to enjoy exclusive perks such as invitations to members-only conservation activities, talks, workshops and events.
Merrymakers can marvel at a dazzling 3.2-metre tall Fishmas tree made of over 300 plastic bottles assembled by young environmentalists, and get creative with Scrooge and learn how to use recycled materials to transform them into Christmas ornaments. You can also purchase reusable canvas bags and have fun colouring them to create personalised, ocean-friendly gifts for your loved ones. Those hungry for a quick bite can indulge in Mrs Claus’ festive cupcake treats at her sweet-smelling bakery near the Open Ocean Habitat.
As part of the holiday festivities, kids can look forward to meeting the aquarium’s adorable mascots – Mai the manta ray and Sam the hammerhead shark – all decked out in Christmas outfits. Singapore residents enjoy discounts on admission at S$30 for an adult one-day ticket (U.P. S$34), and S$18 for a child/senior citizen ticket (U.P. S$24).
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