We also clip their spines so that we don't have to worry about getting accidentally injured. Earlier this week, we noticed that the spines had grown too long on both the male and female cownose rays. We called our Animal Health Department and scheduled a quick exam and spine clip.
First, we collected two hoop which are perfect for catching the rays:
Then we geared up and entered the water while our Co-Op student, Stephany, took photos to document the process. Here's John waiting for a cownose ray to swim by:
Of course, when working with wild animals, we always expect the unexpeted. This time the "unexpected" was Bob, one of our six foot long green moray eels:
Bob was pretty hungry. He would not leave me alone so I had to feed him before attempting to catch the cownose rays again:
After Bob was fed, John and I caught one cownose ray at a time and lifted it up onto the dive platform:
Keiko, one of our vet staff, and I clipped the spine (which doesn't hurt they ray, it's similiar to when we clip our fingernails) while one of our volunteers, Brian, held the ray's pectoral fins:
We also took measurements of each ray so we could track its growth over time. Another of our volunteers, Sam, assisted by recording each ray's total length and disc width. After only a few minutes of of the water, each ray was returned safely to the exhibit: