Giddy-up Strange Seahorses

29 Oct

baby seahorsesThe seahorses at the museum had babies. Lots and lots of babies. Most folks are aware that the males are the sex that give birth. An evolutionary anomaly in the animal kingdom. But seahorse reproductive mode even stranger than males giving birth. For all you marine biologists out there who don’t mind doing research without pay–there is some weird stuff going on with these fishies that begs being looked into. Yes they are fish, so they do spawn. The males squirt their sperm into the water, but the females don’t drop their eggs in the water or a simple nest. Nope. They inject them into the males brooding pouch. You have to be quick to see it, research states it takes 5-10 seconds. Interesting, but not shocking. What is shocking is the sperm swim through the water and into the pouch in those mere seconds. How they know where to go no one knows quite yet. Must be some hormone that leads them there. Reproduction is all hormones. But it gets even more weird. There are only about 100 sperm, there are about 100-1800 eggs depending on the species. (There is some research out there that looked at this.) And most of those eggs turn into baby seahorses. Poly-embryology? Lots of twins, triplets, quadruplets? Really what is the story? Well no one really knows because there is no funding for research and who wants to do research for the pure joy of doing research. I hear you all yelling, “Me! Me! Me!”. So someone out there do the research please because this is fascinating stuff.

Meanwhile the babies are getting big. Here is a low res photo I took the other day with my phone. These fry are 4 months old. They are taken from the main tank to a special tank that is room temperature and has anti-bacterial agents added every few days. Many didn’t make it, those R species do it that way, lots of offspring, only the strongest survive. Grow babies grow, and end up to be weird vertical swimming fish we all love.

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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in backyard science, Science


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