How do manta rays give birth?

by | May 12, 2019 | About Manta Rays

Wishing you a Happy Sunday as we celebrate all mothers around the world today!

Not only do moms bring us into this realm but most of the time, they also face extreme hardships to make us who we are today. There is no measurement of your mother’s significance and contribution in your life – so a happy CHEERS and a heartfelt MAHALO to moms of all species 😍

This image shows a pregnant Andrea-a Ray with dive master Tara Brooks pointing at her extended underside carrying a manta pup and the topic of reproduction ties perfectly into one of the more frequently asked questions about how manta rays give birth.

[Gentle warning: You will find today’s post to be very educational but it will also bring some heartache.]

Size of a Manta Ray at Birth

The gentle giants are one of the ocean’s largest and also least-known species, but we do know they are slow-reproducing animals.

  • It takes 10-15 years for the female to reach sexual maturity
  • Only one pup at a time is born
  • Females are pregnant every 2-4 years
  • There is no post-parturition care but assume species-recognition and copying behavior
  • The gestation period is 13 months
  • The pup grows inside the female and is born live with a wingspan of ~2 to 3 feet (see manta alfredi)

The most adorable way of describing the pup’s body positioning is as a “manta burrito”. Once born, it unrolls its wing and will start swimming and gliding through the ocean for the rest of its life.

The Live Birth of a Manta Ray

Even after 50 years, Roberto Fabbri remains the one wildlife photographer who captured the only images on record showing the birth of a manta ray pup in its natural habitat.

Birth of a manta ray
Birth of a manta ray
Birth of a manta ray
Birth of a manta ray
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Although these images are very educational and it’s astonishing that Roberto was in the right place at the right time, it is important to quote from his website:

“In 1967 with a group of Roman divers, I traveled to Sudan, on the east coast of Africa, for a diving hunt safari in the Red Sea; it was the first time I saw large sharks and flying manta rays, it was a breathtaking experience. During one of these dives I witnessed what can be only described as Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience, I was in the right place at the right time.  The manta ray was speared by one of the group, in those times it represented a big trophy; with my Rolleimarin loaded with B&W film, I captured some of the most incredible photographs….” [Source]

It is heartbreaking to know that this beautiful innocent manta mama had to pay the ultimate price.

We live in trying times when it comes to sustaining a balance with nature, animals, and the environment, but this can also be a great motivator to do better because we know better.

Senseless acts of destruction and other human activities have – according to a recent UN report – resulted in 1 million species being at risk of extinction.

Be the Voice of Manta Rays

Once you have met the gentle giants in person or have been touched by them in any other way, you will always appreciate their grace and beauty. BE THEIR VOICE and stay in touch by joining our free Facebook Manta Ray Advocates community.

It’s a space for manta lovers from around the world to share information about this still mysterious creature and discuss what we can do to make the mantas’ world a better place.

It’s easy: Search Facebook for “Manta Ray Advocates – the Community” or simply click here to JOIN!





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