Sea Horses

In which animal species do the males, and not the females, give birth to babies?

And the answer: sea horses.      

The male seahorse has a pouch on his tail. When ready to have babies, the female seahorse deposits her eggs into the male's pouch. Male seahorses then carry the fertilized eggs up to 45 days before birth, when they can expel 2,000 babies at a time.

Photo credit: Hans Hillewaert. 

From the Latin word Hippocampus, meaning "horse caterpillar," seahorses are truly unique inhabitants of our ocean's waters. Beyond their reversed pregnancy process, seahorses are technically fish with qualities quite unlike most others. They have no scales, hardly a fin to their name (understandably, they're very poor swimmers), and a snout. They defend their own territory, mate for extended periods of time, and even have an exoskeleton. In fact, their tough, bony makeup makes them tough for other fish to digest, creating very few natural predators. Curious indeed.

Seahorses don't quite mate for life, but they do date. Interestingly, seahorses greet their partner every morning for an elaborate dance consisting of twists and twirls that can go on for hours. Evidently the dance helps keep the seahorses' relationships strong and healthy, while ensuring their reproductive cycles are properly synced. After a few reproduction cycles, seahorses move on to the next love interest (you know what they say about fish in the sea...).

Seahorses might not have a stomach, but that hardly stops them from enjoying a meal. In fact, because of their unique digestive system, seahorses are constantly eating tiny fish and planktonic copepods. They can even consume as many as 3,000 small crustaceans a day!

Learn more about seahorses below.


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