Beginning on April 27th, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium will offer guests the opportunity to explore the grace and wonder of stingrays in its new, hands-on special exhibit Stingray Touch.
The outdoor, seasonal exhibit will allow guests to see – and feel – the texture and movement of these gentle animals.
Located under a tented structure on the aquarium’s south terrace, the new 18,000-gallon pool will feature approximately 40 cownose rays and yellow rays. The diamond-shaped cownose ray glides through the water with a wingspan of up to three feet long. Cownose rays are commonly found living near the water’s surface, and they are constantly on the move.
About Stingray Touch at the Shedd
Guests will have exceptional views of the rays’ natural behaviors across the 80-foot-long and 22-foot-wide habitat. The smaller, round yellow rays are bottom-dwellers known for their unique spotted coloring and will be admired through varying vantage points of the two-and-a-half-foot-deep pool.
In the wild, the stingrays’ barbs are a defense mechanism used against predators. Without those threats, Shedd’s animal health team painlessly trims the barbs on the rays in Stingray Touch (similar to clipping fingernails).
At the seasonal special exhibit, Shedd staff members will guide guests through the 15-minute touch experience, while providing interesting facts about stingrays, including information about how choosing sustainable seafood protects stingrays in global waters.
Like many other fishes, cownose rays are accidentally taken as bycatch – marine life unintentionally caught and discarded during fishing – by commercial fisheries. Choosing sustainably-caught seafood is an easy and important way to protect rays beyond Shedd.
Illuminated with a combination of natural light and creative lighting fixtures, the habitat will accommodate curious explorers of all ages, inviting them to see the stingrays through various angles during this up-close encounter. The sleek and vibrant interior of the exhibit will be matched outside with colorful gardens filled with seasonal native plants and flowers wrap around the tented structure.
Shedd has an extensive history of caring for several species of stingrays, including freshwater rays in Amazon Rising; blue spotted rays, ribbontail rays, fiddler rays and whiptail rays in Wild Reef; and southern rays, yellow rays and cownose rays in Caribbean Reef; and starting this spring, cownose and yellow rays in Stingray Touch.
This limited-time experience is scheduled to run from April 27 through fall 2013, weather permitting. For more information, visit www.sheddaquarium.org.