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Uber Scuba Komodo Dive Center, Labuan Bajo


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Mating Manta Rays in Komodo National Park

Manta Mating Magic. One Mother’s Story

The boys that fly through the Komodo waters like it a little rough.

Nevertheless, after a racy chase and a bit of foreplay. I always end up on top.

Now don’t go judging me. I’m not easy, and I’m certainly no submarine slut.

 

The men make their move under my tummy. The act itself doesn’t last long, and every encounter inevitably turns out to be a one night stand.

I’m actually quite picky, and it is the boys that are beating down the door to my bedroom. But I’m hard-wired the same way as they are. We get the job done, and we swim our separate ways. No strings attached, no nursery niceties, no planned parenting. Thank you and good night.

It’s all part of the magical manta mating game.

I’m packing a mini manta in my belly right now, as a matter of fact.

Mind you that doesn’t stop the boys following me around.

We mate year round, so love is always in the air. Or the water, as is our case. If you are lucky enough to have been diving some of the spectacular sites out here in the Komodo Marine Park, you may have seen a manta train.

 

All Aboard the Manta Train

A manta train you ask? Yup. It’s pretty much as it sounds.

The one out in front is the female (that’s me). You could say, in the sexual manta marine world we ladies “drive” the trains. The long line of suitors following the females form the “cars” of the train.

Round and round the reef we go.

There could be 10, there may be 20. I lead them on quite a merry chase. My reward? Usually I end up with several bites on my wings, as the boys fail to contain their excitement. It nice to be the object of such desire. But I mean really, the love bites and resulting scars are a bit much.

Eventually, one of the boys proves to be the best, and he’s the one I want. He’ll sidle up next to me, sink his teeth into my left wing, and slide underneath me. I know as soon as we stop swimming we’ll sink like a rock to the ocean floor (as we are negatively buoyant). So I try to get as close to the surface as possible before the actual penetration occurs.

 

Moving on is the Manta Way

Belly to belly we roll in the water.

Me quite still, while my beau beats his wings like a bat out of hell. Copulation complete, he releases me, and we swim our separate ways.

My wee one grows inside me first as an egg in my uterus. As the birthing day approaches, my pup hatches on the inside, and feeds on my uterine milk. When I think she is ready to roll on her own, I’ll head to a shallow bay or lagoon. Often I will perform a series of spectacular jumps out of the water, that may help trigger the birth. As soon as my mini manta makes her way into the water, she knows how to swim. And she must learn on her own how to survive.

My job is done, and I am out the door. Back to the open seas where the boys, and the breeding ritual await repeat. The wee ones stay in the shallows where they have a much better chance of survival.

 

Manta Moms. You Can’t Live with Them, so You Learn to Live Without Them

I’ve heard that human females and their offspring often suffer from emotional issues.

It has never been a problem for us mantas. Mother/daughter dynamics, protective son syndrome? Nope. We’re an independent lot.

Remember what I told you, that every night is a one night stand? It is the many millions of years of evolution on mother earth that has made us mantas who we are. It may seem strange to you, but it works just fine for us. And we’ve been swimming the seas a lot longer than you bipeds have been walking the woods…

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