(March 12, 2021) --

A close-up look at the eye of a bluntnose stingray. The spiracle, which helps the ray breathe is next to the eye. Rays breathe in through the spiracle by their eye and out through the gill slits underneath their body. (DISL)

Even our aquarium animals need a visit from the eye doctor. DISL's research veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Bloodgood, along with Dr. Laurence Galle and Dr. Lindsay Seyer, spent some time with our rays recently. Dr. Galle and Dr. Seyer are with the Mississippi Veterinary Ophthalmology Specialists in Ocean Springs. 
Dr. Bloodgood mentioned during her Boardwalk Talk recently that one of the male cownose rays in our Rays of the Bay exhibit appeared to have trouble seeing. The ray was also losing weight. During an eye appointment in November with Dr. Galle, they discovered the ray had inflammation and scarring in the eyes that likely resulted in a lack of vision. Dr. Bloodgood and aquarist Logan Holfelder treated the ray with a steroid to reduce the inflammation and an antibiotic to prevent infection. They also began tong feeding the ray to help him gain weight and monitored his movement. 
This follow-up appointment gave the team a chance to check the ray’s progress. With Dr. Seyer’s expertise working with rays, she took time to examine several of the ray’s friends. 
The team examined all parts of the eye, focusing on the outer surface or cornea, the lens, and the internal chambers.  Dr. Seyer also did a special staining technique called the Rose-bengal stain on a couple of the rays during the examination. This technique looks for damage to the cornea, which none was found. 
We're happy to report everyone behaved for the doctors. The cownose ray who initiated the visit is doing well and gaining weight.