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First manta born at Churaumi dies

Date Posted: 2007-06-28

Only four days after the heralded birth of the first manta ray ever born in captivity, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium announced the baby's death.

The baby, a nearly two-meter-wide female, was born June 16th at Churaumi. The mother, a 4.2-meter-wide manta, has been at the aquarium since 1998, while the 3.5-meter-wide father joined Churaumi in 1992. They were seen mating June 8, 2006, beginning the 374-day pregnancy.

Officials say the baby was found dead in an offshore pen where it had been placed after being harassed by the father manta. They say the wounds and stress caused by the father are believed to be the cause of death. The baby was moved two kilometers away from the aquarium, in an ocean pen, after aquarium attendants saw the father chasing the baby.

Despite the death, aquarium officials remain ecstatic about the birth, calling it a tremendous opportunity to gain valuable data about the mysterious manta rays. They have learned from the experience details of manta sexual maturity and mating habits, gestation periods, a baby manta’s size, and the fact manta rays are born tail first.

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