Posts Tagged ‘seahorse’

Photo: Seacoast Science Center.
The male seahorse carries from 5 to 2,000 babies in his pouch, depending on the species.

More and more dads take on nurturing roles these days, a great benefit to kids — and moms, too. That got me thinking about perhaps the top nurturing dad of the animal kingdom, the seahorse. So I was pleased to find a blog post about papa seahorses at the Seacoast Science Center at Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, New Hampshire.

Intern Ashley Breault, who in 2016 was an Ocean Studies and Communications student at the University of New England, wrote, “Father’s Day is a great time to thank all the dads out there who step up their game for life’s most important job! Inarguably, the most notable dad in the animal kingdom, the seahorse has some pretty unique traits that qualify them for the #1 dad in-the-sea award!

“There are more than 50 different seahorse species … all of which do something that gives them the title of best dad: they are one of the only species in which the male carries and delivers its babies. …

“After hours of a courtship ‘dance’ that includes synchronized tail movements and twirling, a male and female seahorse will mate. The female seahorse makes the eggs, and during this mating process, transfers the unfertilized eggs to the male seahorse. The male seahorse fertilizes the eggs and is now a proud father, carrying anywhere from 5-2,000 babies in his pouch, depending on the species.

“In here, these offspring will get all the food and oxygen they need to develop. Anywhere from 14 days to 4 weeks later, all these little seahorses will be born.

“Baby seahorses are called fry and once they are born, they are completely independent. Mom and dad leave them to find food and shelter all on their own. Unfortunately, only a few of the thousands born will make it to adulthood. …

“Here at the Seacoast Science Center, you can find seahorses in our Eelgrass exhibit tank. The seahorses at the Center are called White’s seahorses, Hippocampus whitei, and are actually native to Australia, where they are a very common along the coast. These seahorses are typically very small, growing no longer than 20 cm. Our seahorses are fed mysid shrimp 4 times a day and get all the love and care they need. Because they are so small, they can only eat small amounts of food at a time, which is why they get fed so often.

“One seahorse species that you might be able to find in our local waters are Lined seahorses, Hippocampus erectus, which can live as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Venezuela.” More here.

You might want to check out Seacoast Science Center’s other blog entries, here, especially the post called “One Ocean,” which has a holistic take on the interconnectedness of all the oceans on planet Earth. “The idea of One World Ocean is a relatively new way of thinking about the saltwater basins we all learned about in elementary school. … Over 70% of Earth’s surface is ocean, and understanding its enormous influence on our planet and our lives on land is the first step to understanding the urgency to preserve and protect this life-giving resource.”

The Seacoast Science Center is open Wednesdays to Sundays, 10 am to 4 pm. They encourage people to buy advance tickets and, if unvaccinated and over age 3, to wear a mask.

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I  noticed the Eric Carle picture book Mister Seahorse at Suzanne and Erik’s house today, and it got me thinking about seahorses as fathers.

Did you know seahorse fathers carry the babies from conception to birth, not the mothers?

According to Wikipedia, “The male seahorse is equipped with a pouch on the ventral, or front-facing, side of the tail. When mating, the female seahorse deposits up to 1,500 eggs in the male’s pouch. The male carries the eggs for 9 to 45 days until the seahorses emerge fully developed, but very small. Once the young are released into the water, the male’s role is done and he offers no further care.”

It’s kind of the reverse of today’s devoted fathers. With no direct role in giving birth to babies, they sure do get involved in the daily care and feeding. Grandfathers, too. My husband babysits regularly, and can handle most anything, including diapers.

For more on seahorses, and how to protect them, check out the Sea Horse Trust, here. And if you’re up for a refresher on how increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is endangering sea creatures with spines, including the pygmy seahorse, reread my review of the climate-change movie Revolution, here.

Art: Eric Carle

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