Wild Encounters: Sea Horse breeding habits

Wild Encounters

(WJBF) – You may not know this, but in the wild it’s the male seahorses that carry and give birth to babies.
And the amount of babies they have may surprise you. Today on Wild Encounters we’re taking a look at Sea Horse breeding habits.

Tell us a little bit about the Sea Horse breeding habits.

Sarah Weaver / Aquarist:
“So, the seahorses actually court each other. They start by doing a little dance and during that dance they pick which partner they want, and then mate, and then after they mate the male will actually carry the babies and once those babies are fully grown and he gives birth, then they actually look like miniature size of their parents, but their parents don’t stick around in the wild, usually. The baby seahorses are kind of on their own. They can have up to a couple thousand seahorses in one brood.”

“So, you mentioned that seahorses have a lot of babies. Why do they have so many?”

Sarah: “They have so many babies, that way they can increase their chance of surviving in the wild. There’s predators, they can get carried away by currents…so, by having so many babies at one time, it increases the survival of seahorses.”

“With the amount of babies that they have, what happens to them here at Riverbanks Zoo? Do they stay or where do they go?”

Sarah: “The babies are taken off exhibit. When we see that the male is pregnant, we can typically gauge when he’s going to give birth and we will remove him from the exhibit and allow him to have his babies off exhibit and we’ll take that seahorse fry and we’ll put it in some special back-up space we have specifically for our frys.”

“Now, you guys have a breeding program here at Riverbanks Zoo. Let’s talk a little bit about that.”

Sarah: “Yeah, so we actually participate in the species survival plan program, short SSP, and what that program allows us to do is trade with other facilities. That way we can keep the genetic diversity in seahorses.”

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