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Churaumi scores first ever manta birth in captivity

Date Posted: 2007-06-21

Congratulations It’s a girl!

Jubilant officials at Okinawa’s Churaumi Aquarium are heralding the first ever birth of a manta ray in captivity. It’s a monumental feat, never achieved anywhere in the world before, and comes nearly 19 years after the aquarium began trying to breed the Mantra birostris. The manta ray is the largest species among rays, and is found in warm tropic oceans around the world. Manta rays can grow to 6.7 meters in width, feeding on small fishes and plankton.

The baby manta ray was born June 16th, measuring 1.9 meters (more than six feet) in width. The happy mom is manta #10, a 4.2 meter manta ray residing at Churaumi Aquarium since being freed from a fishnet off Okinawa’s southern islands in June 1998. The father is 3.5 meter wide manta #6, who’s joined the aquarium family in May 1992. Churaumi Aquarium first began efforts to breed the manta rays in November 1988.

The birth comes after a 374-day pregnancy, with the father also present in the Kuroshio Tank at the aquarium. The manta birth was captured on video, and showed the baby manta sliding out of the mother before quickly extending its fins and starting to swim. Japan’s national broadcasting company, NHK, broadcast the joyous event on Sunday.

Few aquariums in the world raise mantas, and none has ever before been successful in breeding them. Aquarium officials acknowledge that much remains to be learned about manta rays, and hope the new baby will provide valuable data to the oceanographic community.

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