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Shy manta pair documented mating at Churaumi Aquarium

Date Posted: 2006-06-16

Okinawa’s Churaumi Aquarium is excited about its manta rays mating activities.

They’ve captured the tryst on film, something never before accomplished anywhere in the world.

Aquarium officials say they don’t know if the mating will produce offspring, but say the truth will be known early next year. Manatas give birth to live offspring, rather than laying eggs.

The 3.5 meter long male manta chased the female around the tank for much of the afternoon at Motobu Expo Park Friday, finally catching her shortly after the aquarium closed to the public. Staff say the 4.2 meter long female gave in to the male’s attention and the two mated for about five minutes.

Aquarium director Minoru Toda says “very little is known about mantas in the wild. If the breeding was successful, we can now observe a full development cycle of mantas for the first time.” He says the male had been chasing the female since February, leaving the aquarium staff convinced romance was only a matter of time.

As the male became more aggressive last week, the staff set up the cameras. Sure enough, the time came, and staff captured it all on film and video.

Churaumi Aquarium has two male and two female mantas. If babies are produced, it would be the first time it has been accomplished anywhere.

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