Study proves for the first time that mantas become adults at five years old

Study proves for the first time that mantas become adults at five years old

The male Alfred manta that found to reach adulthood at age five. Photo taken at the Okinawa Churaum Aquarium in 2014.


February 1, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo


The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Motobu announced on January 30 that a male Alfred manta born at the aquarium in June, 2008 was confirmed to be an adult capable of reproduction at five years of age after having been continusouly observed since birth.

This is the first such finding made in the world.


According to the aquarium, wild mantas have been observed to become adults at five to six years old, yet it had never been officially confirmed.


The study observed over a long period of time the changes in the aquarium-born manta’s hormones, reproductive organs, and behaviors. The study demonstrated the manta reached its sexual maturity at approximately five years old.


This research, made possible by the long-term habitation in the aquarium, will be valuable in the conservation effort for the Alfred manta, which is threatened by population decline.


Aquarium manager Keiichi Sato, 46, commented at the presentation of the study’s findings, “This study provides data that can be utilized to study how to conserve the manta species.

This will also enable us to further work on captive breeding of the species.”


The male sample that reached its maturity had been growing well in a live-box in the ocean, and it is also confirmed that the manta mated with a female manta.


The study was publised by the international academic journal BMC Zoology, in October, 2017.


The Alfred manta is the biggest species among manta rays.

They live mainly around temperate and tropical marine waters such as the southern Okinawa and the Indo-Pacific Oceans.


(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma)


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