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Male can be differentiated from female by the prominence of their reproductive organs, two claspers extending from the pelvic fins.

Manta rays are oviviparous, the embryo is wrapped in a thin shell connected by blood vessel to the mother’s tissues. The shell hatches inside the mother. 

Female give birth to a single live young (sometimes 2) after at least 1 year of gestation. 

The young will be between 1 and 1.5 m wide.

When mating, the male grabs the left pectoral fin of the female until the end of the copulation. 

Mating behaviour has rarely been observed in the wild, mating scars (on left pectoral fin for females and claspers for males) are the main evidence that a manta has been mating recently.

Note: Manta rays do not give birth in midair, this long believed tale comes from a fisherman who harpooned a female manta which spontaneously abort while jumping out of the water due to high level of stress.

No data currently exist on the age at maturity and growth rate of these giants.

Reproductive behaviour

  • A- Courtship behaviour: One or several males chasing the female , matching all her moves (often observed by divers)
  • B- Biting: male bite the left pectoral fin of the female and get to belly to belly position
  • C- Copulation: Insert one clasper into female cloacae (60-90 sec)
  • D- Post-copulation: male removes clasper but continue to hold on the female’s pectoral fin
  • E- Separation: male release female
  • Female and male will mate with multiple partners

Manta Jumping: Mantas are frequently seen breaching, this behaviour is not fully understood but recent research suspects that it may be related to reproductive behaviour (male warning of its presence?).