Crown Princess Mary releases thornback rays to the sea in her role as the newly appointed president of World Wide Fund for Nature

By Heather Cichowski

Crown Princess Mary stepped out for a royal engagement on Aug. 19 as part of her role as the recently appointed president of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The Danish royal visited the Kattegat Center in Grenaa, Denmark to release thornback rays into the sea. Photos captured Mary holding a net with two of the five thornback rays. She knelt down on a dock and manoeuvred the net into a box that divers were holding.

It was an important moment because thornback rays (sometimes called thornback skate or roker) are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, according to the Wildlife Trust. The Danish royal family's Instagram elaborated that the species is threatened with extinction.

The Danish royal took an active role in her duties as president of the WWF with the release of the thornback rays. Photo: © HENNING BAGGER/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

Thornback rays are closely related to sharks. They have a distinct diamond shape and a soft cartilage skeleton. The incredible species likes to bury itself in sediment during the day then come out at dusk to hunt.

"The release of the sea stingrays must create new knowledge for both researchers and fishermen, as the majority of the 13 Danish stingrays today are threatened with extinction," read the Instagram post, translated from Danish.

MORE: Danish royal family releases new portraits of Prince Felix to celebrate his 18th birthday

The Crown Princess was appointed president of the World Wide Fund for Nature earlier this year. The organization works to protect endangered species by spreading solutions that will hopefully ensure a better future for nature and the planet.

In 1972, Prince Henrik, the husband of Queen Margrethe, helped establish the WWF in Denmark. He remained president of the organization until his death in 2018. Now, daughter-in-law Mary is continuing the role to help the planet and its awe-inspiring creatures.

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