This morning at check in, we were pleased to discover that our male lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) on exhibit gave birth! Now there are hundreds of newborn seahorses swimming freely in the Seahorse exhibit. It is very common for our seahorses to give birth in the early morning hours, so we were looking for them during check in.
The ventral surface of the adult male seahorse (his belly) is equipped with a pouch used for carrying eggs that the female had deposited while mating. There, the eggs are fertilized, then hatched, and the young are carried until fully developed. It becomes obvious in seahorses, as in many animals, when they are close to giving birth. This particular male was very gravid, and we knew it was only a matter of days before he gave birth!
Juvenile seahorses are obviously incredibly small and in captivity, the life support system must be designed so they do not get sucked into the filtration system. They also require a very specific water flow; too much and they get buffeted about, too little and they do not feed or swim effectively. The little horses will eat enriched live zoo-plankton, primarily Artemia (brine shrimp) nauplii, until they can be transitioned to more substantial and nutritious foods.