Seahorses are interesting little critters. We say little because, unlike their land-based namesakes, seahorses average from one inch tall to just under 12 inches, depending on the species. They only weigh in between 7 ounces and one pound. There are currently 47 different species of seahorses, but that may change as we learn more about them. One very interesting feature about them is how a seahorse gives birth.
Seahorse births are unique because the male is tasked with incubating and birthing the babies. Pipefish are the only other species where males give birth. During mating, the female transfers eggs to the male. He collects them in his pouch and fertilizes them.
Female seahorse transferring her eggs to the male. pic.twitter.com/TjYX97LXi1— Spellbinding Odyssey (@SpellOdyssey) January 20, 2024
The number of eggs can vary from 50 to more than 1,500, depending on the species. During their time in the male’s pouch, the eggs receive all their nutrients and oxygen. Gestation also varies with species and can range from 14 days to four weeks. But the birthing process is absolutely amazing.
This is how seahorses give birth!! pic.twitter.com/X281ZP0jD0— Nature is Amazing ☘️ (@AMAZlNGNATURE) January 20, 2024
A male seahorse may take up to 12 hours to give birth. This depends on the size, species, and number of eggs. Seahorses are born live and swim immediately. Once the birth is complete, baby seahorses are pretty much on their own. This leaves them susceptible to predators, shifting water currents, and many other factors that greatly reduce their survival rate, which is less than 0.5%.
No one is quite sure why male seahorses give birth, but there is some speculation. Many believe that the adaptation was made because the survival rate is so low. While the male carries eggs and gives birth, the female can continue egg production. The shared labor is integral to the survival of the species. Whatever the reasoning behind it, we think it’s just plain cool how seahorses give birth! If you enjoyed this, please share it with other seahorse lovers.
You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.
Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.