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Do male seahorses give birth? Five fishy facts about these deep sea dads

In the world of fishy fathers, nobody grabs the reigns more tightly than the noble seahorse.

In fact, they’re nearly unique in the whole of nature, as the male seahorse actually bears their young in a special ‘pouch’ and ensures they get all the food, oxygen and protection they need to grow and finally hatch. And here are some more incredible facts that show how amazing these deep sea dads truly are.

Life partners

These doting dads may have been around for 13 million years or so according to fossil records, but they certainly display some modern and forward-thinking values. Not content with carrying the fertilised eggs of their young (called fry), they also don’t subscribe to the ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ philosophy. In fact, they’re monogamous. This means that once they’ve found their partner, they stick together for life, which in their case is around three years.

Eternal romantics

They’re romantics at heart, wooing their mates with a complex dance routine. Even once eggs have been fertilised and seahorses have been paired off, the male seahorse ensures romance is always in the air. Every morning they carry out an unusual dance routine that involves plenty of spins and twirls. Scientists believe this romantic gesture also helps their reproductive cycles to remain in sync.

They can’t swim

Seahorses aren’t great swimmers, which is bad news for any sea creature, and makes them easy prey for predators such as stingrays. Never underestimate the ingenuity of a seahorse though, because what they lack in swimming skills they make up for in their ability to hide. Some species have a chameleon-like ability to match their colour to the local coral, making them invisible to pincer-wielding predators like as crabs. Meanwhile, when they want to move longer distances, they’ll use their tails to latch onto drifting seaweed and let the ocean currents do the work.

They have no stomach, but love eating

Despite being poor swimmers, having no stomach and not a single tooth, Seahorses still like to eat meat. In fact, having no stomach doesn’t hold them back, it actually makes them eat more. Scientists estimate the average adult seahorse will eat 30-50 times a day, and their fry will gobble even more. That’s because food passes straight through their digestive tract. When it comes to finding suitable prey, they simply melt into the background and wait until a passing shoal of small fish, cluster of crustaceans or juicy plankton happen to pass. They then use their powerful and agile necks to swiftly suck in their unsuspecting seafood snack.

Unfishy fish

Seahorses are probably the most un-fish like fish out there. The tail is a giveaway for a start. It’s more like a monkey’s tail, capable of gripping onto rocks, plants and seaweed alike. They also don’t have scales, and the most un-fish like fact of all is that they have an exoskeleton. This means their bones are on the outside, and their flesh is hidden away within.

Pay our Seahorses a visit

At Blue Reef Aquarium Hastings, you’ll find plenty of marine life to keep you entertained and astounded. And whilst you’re here, see if you can spot our big bellied seahorses floating around in the Native Zone.
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