Michael Laterveer (director Blue Linked), holding a cultured Thornback ray before setting it free in the Oosterschelde (photo: P. Verhoog).
On 14th October 2017 our project 'Sharks and rays back in the North Sea' reaches an important milestone. The Thornback rays that are cultured in our hatchery since May last year, are released into the wild in the Oosterschelde (the Netherlands). Our staff and student trainees have been working for months on end to meet this moment. We are very proud with the results!
The Thornback rays are in optimal health, our research in the hatchery has shown that the fish are perfectly able to catch their own prey (e.g. shrimp). Sportvisserij Nederland has applied tags to the animals, which gave no negative effects on their health and behaviour. If the cultured Thornback rays are caught by fishermen after their release, the tags will be used to gather data about e.g. the location and the size/weight of the fish. These data are necessary to gain insight in the habitat and ecology, which contributes to the conservation of the species. All of our work is carried out according to the regulations of the Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit.
Setting free the cultured Thornback rays certainly does not imply that the project 'Sharks and rays back in the North Sea' is over. In our hatchery in Utrecht, a second batch of eggs is getting ready for another cycle. In the mean time we continue our research to improve our efforts in providing these predatory fish a bright future, a necessary step for a healthy North Sea!