The Newport Aquarium’s New Shark Ray Was Killed by an Overenthusiastic Suitor

The aquarium has yet to name names or point fingers at which of the other four shark rays was responsible for the new female’s undoing

The lovely Summer, just prior to the accident. Photo: Newport Aquarium

Shark mating isn’t the most romantic act in the animal kingdom. Males typically chase down females, then grab hold of their reluctant mate’s dorsal fin by clamping on with their teeth. As if this weren’t traumatic enough, sometimes things go wrong, as recently exemplified at the Newport Aquarium, in Kentucky. The aquarium’s lovely new female shark ray was killed in her holding pen after an overly enthusiastic male tried to mate with her but missed her dorsal fin, fatally biting her abdomen instead. Here’s USA Today on the unfortunate situation:

The female, estimated to be 6 years old, died Monday from internal bleeding, said Mark Dvornak, Newport Aquarium general curator.

“This is just a very unfortunate, kind of a freakish thing,” he said.

The center of attention when she joined Shark Ray Bay on July 17, the female died before patrons could name her.

Upon the female’s arrival at the aquarium, staff invited patrons to suggest names for her on Facebook, eliciting suggestions such as Shimmer, Suzie Q, Fantasy and Hot Stuff. To honor the deceased shark ray, the aquarium decided to go ahead and name her posthumously, posting this message on Facebook:

We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of sympathy after the death of our new Shark Ray. All of us here at Newport Aquarium have been moved by your kindness and compassion.

Many of you suggested that we go ahead and choose a name, the better to remember her. We have decided to take your advice. The name that was by far the most popular in our Facebook name poll was “Summer,” so that’s the one we will use.

On behalf of all who cared about Summer, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

The aquarium was hoping Summer would eventually deliver the first captive shark ray pups in the aquarium’s history but has yet to name names or point fingers at which of the other four shark rays—Sweet Pea, Scooter, Sunshine and Spike—was responsible for Summer’s undoing.

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