There are many amazing dads in the animal kingdom but only one gives birth to offspring – seahorses.
Seahorses may not look like a typical fish, but are considered fish. Their appearance is just one of their many unique traits.
They are named after the shape of their head, which resembles a horse, and are really bad swimmers. Thankfully, their ability to camouflage into their surroundings and swim forward, backwards, up, and down protects them from predators.
There are over 40 species of seahorses that range in size from under an inch to over a foot in length. But their most fascinating feature is that males seahorses, and their close relatives sea dragons, are the ones who get pregnant and give birth.
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How Does It Work?
Seahorses are monogamous creatures and tend to stay with the same mate for a long time. Every morning, they perform a dance ritual, interlocking their tails and swimming together, to keep the romance alive.
During mating season, the females will lay her eggs inside the male’s brood pouch. After fertilizing the eggs, the male will rest for the entire gestation period, which can last from two to four weeks.
As the due date nears, the seahorse’s belly grows. When it is time to welcome the little ones into the world, the males will experience contractions as the babies emerge. Males can have anywhere from a handful to thousands of babies at a time.
As soon as the baby seahorses leave their father’s pouch they are on their own. NOAA states that only about .5% survive to adulthood.
Seahorse couples have multiple broods a year due to the devastating amount that perish.
Why Do Male Seahorses Give Birth?
This is a question scientists have yet to answer. One explanation is to preserve the species.
The female exerts a lot of energy creating eggs and then depositing them into the male. The male then acts as an incubator and protects the babies while the female starts to create more.
Or maybe we will never figure out the reason why and it will remain a natural wonder.
Watch as a male seahorse gives birth to 2,000 babies in the video below.
Seahorses In Danger
Just like countless other marine animals, seahorses are threatened by trash in the ocean.
Over one million marine animals die every year due to plastic pollution. Sign the pledge below to keep our oceans clean for all the animals that call it home!
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