Premature baby ray takes first swim after 'hatching' from plastic sandwich bag

21 February 2019, 15:22 | Updated: 21 February 2019, 18:01

A premature baby ray has taken its first wobbly swim after spending two months in a plastic sandwich bag used to save its life.  

The ray was at the embryo stage when it was born nearly a month early in December, and was still trapped in its egg case.

It was placed into a plastic bag in a bid to save its life by aquarist Frazer Mackay of Macduff Marine Aquarium in Aberdeenshire.

The bag acted as a protection sack, with tiny holes in each corner, allowing the creature to develop before it eventually "hatched" into the tank on Tuesday.

The delicate creature crashed to the bottom of its nursery tank before practising a few backward somersaults after it was carefully released from the bag.

Chris Rowe, displays officer at the aquarium, said it was "wonderful" to finally release the baby ray into the tank to join its siblings.

He told Sky News: "The baby has been in its bag for two months whilst it finally absorbs the last of its external yolk sac.

"Now that this has been done, the baby is set to start feeding on its own alongside its brothers and sisters.

"We're all delighted and it will be fun watching this little 'media star' develop."

The aquarium posted a video of the special moment on Facebook, writing in an accompanying post: "Our baby ray in a baggie 'hatched' today!

"After a moment of disorientation the baby is settled gently to the bottom of the nursery tank, well done Frazer!"

The baby ray had not particularly increased in size during its time in the bag, but used up its yolk sac completely, as it would have done in the natural mermaid's purse before hatching, the aquarium said.

Mr Rowe said its survival rate "should be just as good as if it had naturally hatched from its own egg case.

"As long as it starts eating fine we'll be okay".

The juvenile's first swim was understandably a bit shaky but it soon began to swim several loops as it enjoyed its new freedom.

The baby ray's gender will become identifiable once its body has developed.

For now, the aquarium are keeping a close eye on its progress.