Birth Announcement: Lined Seahorses!

See the baby seahorses! Buy your tickets online today and pay no ticketing surcharge. As a non-profit, proceeds from tickets pay for our education, conservation and research programs—and help feed the animals. 

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:


The yellow-spotted river turtles visit the vet

Kerry McNally is a biologist in the Animal Health department. She blogged extensively when she was with the Rescue department. Today she takes us behind the scenes to show how the resident yellow-spotted river turtles get their annual check-ups. 

Did you know we have many species of turtles that live in the aquarium? Not only do we have our resident sea turtles including Myrtle the green turtle, but we also have several brackish water and freshwater species such as the diamondback terrapin that you can find in the Mangrove Exhibit or the Amazon river turtles in the anaconda exhibit. Like our sea turtles, these animals get annual physicals just like humans every year.

Yellow-spotted river turtle | Photo: Christine A. via Flickr

Recently, our Amazon yellow-spotted turtles came out of the Amazon Flooded Forest Exhibit for their exams by veterinarian Julie.

Turtle in its tank before the exam

The exam by our veterinarian is what you would expect at your own doctor. The turtles need a check-up just like us! First step is to get a weight on the turtle.

Peru, our 25 year old female, gets her weight taken.

Peru is not shy about it so I can tell you she weighs almost 23 pounds! Her son Oedipus, who was born here at the Aquarium in October of 2005, weighed in at 10 pounds.

Then the turtles get a full visual exam by our veterinarian. This includes looking at the eyes, in the mouth, and looking over the entire animal for any abnormalities.

Julie exams the eyes of Peru.  

Julie examining the plastron, or bottom shell, of Oedipus. 

The last part of the exam involves taking blood for analysis. The results allow us to make sure the animals are in good health.  Where do you think we get blood from this type of turtle?

If you guessed the tail you are right! Above, blood is being taken from dorsal tail.  

The turtles don’t seem to mind being out for their exams once a year. Their annual exams are important to ensuring they get the best care here at the aquarium. Until they visit the Animal Medical Center next year, you can find them in the Amazon Rainforest Gallery.

Oedipus hangs out in his make shift hammock, one of his favorite spots where you can find him. 

— Kerry