The Japanese public watched in fascination last month as the first manta ray birth in captivity was broadcast nationwide from the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Adult manta rays are large with ,Aeuwingspans,Aeu up to 25,Aeo across. However, baby manta rays are hardly guppies, emerging from their mother after a 374 day gestation period with a 6,Aeo wingspan. Wrapped like a burrito, the baby manta pops out and instinctively begins to beat its fins.
Live manta birth from Japanese television
Unlike other rays whose mouths are on the underside of their bodies, manta ray’s mouths are forward facing. They are also known for their curiousity, routinely brushing up against divers and allowing them to hitch along for rides.
Sadly, this baby manta died five days later partially from injuries inflicted by its father. However, researchers learned a good deal about these mysterious animals in this relatively short time. The riveted Japanese public hopes that future research will definitively determine which parts of the manta ray are most delicious.