Since mid-September, there has been a baby boom of dwarf seahorses born at Brookfield Zoo’s Living Coast. Nearly 30 seahorse fry (name for baby fish) have been born, including nine on November 14. One of the animal care specialists, who cares for them, was at the right place at the right time and was able to capture the amazing moment on his cell phone. The video can be seen on the zoo’s social media channels.
The dwarf seahorse is one of the smallest species of seahorse, measuring about a ¼ inch at birth and up to 2 inches when full grown. To provide the best chance of survivability, the seahorses born at Brookfield Zoo are being reared by staff behind the scenes. However, several adult seahorses can be seen in their habitat at the Living Coast.
The seahorse and its close relative, the sea dragon, are the only animals that have a true reversed pregnancy in which the male gives birth to the fry. A female seahorse transfers her eggs to the male, where they are fertilized in his brood pouch. There, the developing seahorses are provided oxygen, nourishment and protection. When he is ready to give birth, the male opens his brood pouch and makes contractions to push out the babies. Once born, the adults have nothing to do with their offspring—the newborn seahorses are independent and fend for themselves.
According to International Union for Conservation of Nature, the dwarf seahorse population is declining due to habitat loss, pollution, residential and commercial development, and human activities.
Video credit: Mike Masellis