DAYDREAM Island welcomed nine new giant shovelnose rays to the family last month making them the second place in the entire world to have ever successfully bred the animals in captivity.

The arrival of the litter is the third for Daydream Island, which also makes it the most successful breeding program of shovel nose rays in captivity globally.

While the pups are yet to be named, Living Reef marine biologist Nick Guinee said the new additions were excitedly welcomed into the world.

“The parents of the new babies have called the Living Reef home for over 10 years and have successfully given birth the past three years in a row,” he said.

“This reproductive success is a testament to the health of the Living Reef lagoon system as it is only the second place in the entire world to breed these rays in captivity.

“Measuring in at around 34cm at birth, these rays can grow to be up to 2.5 metres long.

“Although shark-like in their appearance, shovelnose rays are more closely related to stingrays than to sharks.

“They are typically found in the shallow sandy bays and inshore reefs of the Indo-Pacific region.”

Giant shovelnose rays are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, making the arrival even more special.

They are often hunted for their fins or caught in nets during fishing for another species.