Wild Encounters: Seahorses

Wild Encounters

Micah:  Welcome to another edition of Wild Encounters.  We’re in the aquarium area. I’m with Beth who is an aquarist here and we’re talking about seahorses, kind of an iconic animal of the ocean and they breed them here. And so we have a whole range from adults, all the way down to baby so tiny that I didn’t realize they were in there before I started filming them. So tell us a little bit about the seahorses that you have here.

Beth:  So we have a variety of different sizes. Right now we have several babies and couple months old. We actually just last month just released eight juveniles out on exhibit so you can tell the difference between them and adult counterparts, because there is quite a size difference between them and the juveniles that we have.  The baby babies that were just born this month, they’re about three millimeters long, so nice and tiny.  It’s kind of hard to count them but yeah, we get them nice and small.  They’re bred here and then once they get a large enough size move into a larger container and then they eventually go on an exhibit as well.

Micah:  So seahorses, when they are breeding and they give birth… kind of the iconic trivia question about how the males carry the baby… so kind of describe that process for the folks out there who hadn’t heard that before.

Beth:  So yeah, this is the only species I know of where the male is the one that’s pregnant. So they do a little courting dance where the male pops his belly up really, really big and again, they’re called pot bellies. So that’s very appropriate and then they do a little mating dance and then they travel up in the water column and position themselves and the female actually transfers the eggs to the male and then he carries them for about three to four weeks and then once it’s time he just lets the babies out and let them go on their way.

Micah:  So super dad stepping in and make things a little easier for mom and then the sea horses go on their way.  Very tiny, so what are they eating when… I mean you see them here and the footage they’re like the size of my fingernail when they’re first born, what are they eating from when they’re young, all the way up when they’re adults?

Beth:  So we feed them Artemia, which is like juvenile sea monkeys. Basically, but we feed them to day old ones which are pretty tiny so you can barely see the moving in the water.  We do feed them four times a day. We offer them food, sometimes they don’t eat but sometimes they do so we have to make sure we offer enough because they do have a shorter digestive tract…so to make sure that they eat enough so they can grow fast enough.  And then once they’re larger we do feed them zooplankton on exhibit as well, frozen that we just thought out and then we just feed it and they chase after it.

Micah:  One thing I was wondering too because based on their shape…it’s kind of mesmerizing the way they move through the water…how do they propel themselves because it’s not like they have big fins like other fish or, you know, it seems like they just kind of glide.

Beth:  They do kind of glide. They’re not active swimmers like fish are.  They have a tail but that’s mostly just to attach to the substrate or different materials that are in the water, but they do have a set of fins, they have one long one down their back, and then they also have two kind of on the side of their heads. So that’s how they control their directionality is with that and they kind of propel with the back.  They go with the current.

Micah:  Very cool. So they kind of float their way along very gracefully through the water. So come on down here.  Head into the aquarium. You can see some of them here on exhibit, right across from the the sharks right here in the midst of aquarium.  Come check out these very cool seahorse.  We will see you next time.

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