The Captivating Courtship Of Manta Rays – See For Yourself

Source: Hakai Magazine/Joshua Rapp Learn 

Photo:  Leonard Clifford/Wikimedia Commons 

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For the past 14 years, scientists have been watching manta rays pick each other up at a known hot spot in the Maldives, recording 229 courtship events. They recently compiled their observations into a report that is, according to Guy Stevens, founder of Manta Trust, and lead author: “the most detailed window into the sex lives of mantas.”

While the two species of manta rays documented in the study, giant oceanic manta rays and reef manta rays, mate in different places and usually at different times of the year, their mating rituals are quite similar.

The courtship often begins when a female releases pheromones that draw the attention of males in the vicinity. Males make a pass at the female, and perhaps unexpectedly given her pheromone pronouncement, the female will zoom off. Other males may also join the chase, and with the males in hot pursuit, the female twists and turns in the water, deking around obstacles and navigating at high speed in an effort to judge her suitors’ physical prowess. To attract more males to choose from, she may breach the surface in acrobatic leaps.

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Photo:  Leonard Clifford/Wikimedia Commons

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