GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Workers at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies were surprised by the birth of a new baby stingray Tuesday.
"It was a pleasant surprise today," said IMMS Senior Marine Educator Whitney Stone. "Came in this morning getting ready to do maintenance on our aquarium and they noticed something peculiar in one of our overflow filters. And when they went to take a closer look they realized that it was a brand new baby sting ray."
Stone said the Cownose stingray is the first one ever born at IMMS. The little, female pup is already becoming a favorite for visitors.
"I was really surprised yesterday since I go to this camp. We saw all the stingrays, none of them look like they're pregnant. But we just saw the baby and the mother and it doesn't look like they are related at all," said camper Tristan Lartigue.
"I didn't know that there was gonna be a baby stingray cause, like, our counselors didn't tell us there was gonna be one. But I was excited when they said there was one because I really like baby animals," said camper Anna Ware.
Since the gestation period for Cownose stingrays is 11 months, workers said the mother had to be pregnant when she arrived in the tank about four months ago.
Stone said the baby will have a diet of shrimp and fish just like the rest of the Atlantic and Cownose stingrays there. Both species are native to the Gulf of Mexico.
"It's really cute watching him. He's a lot like his mom cause I remember coming to the touch pool yesterday and the mom was doing that and it's really fun just seeing how alike they are," said Ware.
And while the workers will be in charge of caring for the baby, they'll need your help naming her.
If you have an idea for a name for the baby stingray post it on the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies Facebook page.