Scots aquarium doing its bit to save endangered species

A critically endangered flapper skate called Cedric, resident at one of Aberdeenshire’s top visitor attractions, will be making a splash as the star of a new Doric story.

The young flapper skate (Dipturus intermedius) came to Macduff Marine Aquarium from Orkney at the end of 2020, after he hatched in a home aquarium in a researcher’s garage.

Cedric is now thriving at the aquarium alongside other native Moray Firth marine species on display.

Flapper skates are the largest skates in the world, reaching nearly 3m long. Cedric has so far grown to over 50cm and trebled in weight.

The youngster has been helping the aquarium highlight the plight of local populations of flapper skates to visitors – once common in Scottish waters, this charismatic species is now more at risk of extinction in the wild than the giant panda.

The aquarium team has also been contributing information to researchers on flapper skate growth. The knowledge that the team has gained from taking care of Cedric has recently been published as part of zoo best practice guidelines for skates, produced by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.

Cedric is now due to become an even bigger star, having inspired Doric writer, Jackie Ross, to create a story of his life and time at the aquarium, written in the dialect of the North-East.

Cedric’s story will be turned into a children’s book to inspire young people about local marine animals and promote the Doric dialect and culture.

With funding support from the Doric Board, the story will be produced to coincide with Macduff Marine Aquarium’s 25th anniversary this April. It will also be performed in Doric to audiences, including live interpretation in British Sign Language, at the aquarium’s Silver Splash celebratory events on April 9 and 10. There will be stories about other fishy characters encountered by Cedric at the aquarium too, including Jemima the Atlantic halibut – also endangered in the wild.

The aquarium’s learning officer, Marie Dare, said: ‘We’re very excited that Cedric is going to be the central character in a unique story for the aquarium. As it’s Scotland’s Year of Stories too, this is a great way to be celebrating not only our fantastic fish and our 25th birthday, but also the rich culture and dialect of this area.

‘We’re delighted that the funding from the Doric Board has enabled this story to be produced and to have the British Sign Language interpreters for the performance, making Cedric’s story even more accessible. We can’t wait to discover how it will all turn out for Cedric!”

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