Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Good Fathers - Seahorses

The Seahorse is probably the most well-known "Good Dad." They come as close to being pregnant as it is possible for a male to be. Actually, technically, the male seahorse does become pregnant.

Male and Female seahorses form a monogamous pair during the breeding season. They strengthen their bond by daily greetings, promenades and pirouettes. During mating, the female deposits her eggs in the male's brood pouch. There they are fertilized and then embedded in the pouches walls. The brood pouch acts like a womb although it looks more like a honeycomb structure. The fertilized eggs will receive nutrients, oxygen and protection for the next 2 – 4 weeks, depending on species of seahorse. The fluid inside the male's brood pouch will slowly change from an amniotic-like substance to fluid more closely resembling seawater. This will lessen the shock to the offspring when they are born. The male seahorse does go into labor and does deliver his children in the classic sense. The birth generally happens at night so the male seahorse will be ready for a new batch of eggs from his mate when they meet in the morning.

Most fish species abandon their eggs once they are laid and fertilized. Thanks to the care given by the male seahorse, mortality rates among their newborns are lower. That is a committed dad.

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