Today's post comes from guest blogger and volunteer Daire Gaj, who volunteers in the Dive Department and behind the scenes of many exhibits.
Visitors to the Edge of the Sea touch tank are in for a special surprise: dozens of baby sea horses! Check them out in this video:
These babies are lined seahorses, or Hippocampus erectus, a species found in the waters off Cape Cod, with a range extending south to Argentina. But these seahorses weren't found in the ocean; they were born in the Aquarium near the Edge of the Sea tidepool touch tank! Take a step to the left and you'll see a tall tank full of adult seahorses.
This is where aquarist Dave Wedge discovered the babies on the morning of September 13. He quickly moved them to their own tank, where you can see them now.
|An adult male seahorse at the New England Aquarium. He might be the father of the baby seahorses. |
Or it might be one of his tankmates.
Seahorses are special in that the male gives birth. During mating, the female gives him 250 - 650 eggs, which he will carry for about 20 days until he's ready to release the live offspring into the water column. Breeding typically happens from May to October, triggered by the warmer water temperatures. This made me wonder if the seahorses at the Aquarium have a breeding season. "Not really," says aquarist Jackie Anderson. Instead, they tend to breed whenever the staff turn up the temperature in their tank.
It takes lined seahorses about 9 months to grow as big as their parents. Eventually, these babies will be too big for the exhibit, and will need to be moved behind the scenes, so catch them while you can! Even after they're gone, there will still be plenty of seahorses and related animals to see. Look for the Caribbean dwarf seahorses in the Yawkey Coral Reef Center, and the seadragons in the Thinking Gallery.
|Actual size: These aren't babies! Caribbean dwarf seahorses grow to a maximum size of one and a half inches.|
If you liked this post, here a couple more posts you might enjoy:
- Read about that time the dwarf seahorses had babies in the exhibit
- Check out some of the other impossibly tiny animals you might find at the Aquarium
- Read Daire's previous post—and see his step-by-step pictures—of a lobster molting
- See video of Daire diving in the Giant Ocean Tank with a bridles burrfish