Seahorse: pregnant father of the sea

In general, the female of the species gives birth to babies, but not always. The male seahorse goes through pregnancy, and not the female.

The male seahorse has a pouch on its stomach where he carries his babies.

Big Bellied Seahorse

For example, the pictured male Big Bellied Seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis), which is also called the Pot-Bellied Seahorse, has a rounded, protruding stomach, whereas the female has a pointed stomach. However, the male also has a smooth, soft pouch-like area at the base of its abdomen where he carries the babies. The female does not have a baby pouch. 

Courtship involves a series of colour changes and postural displays. Males lighten their pouch in colour to white or light yellow, while also brightening their overall body colour, typically to yellow. 

The female transfers her eggs to the male. She squirts her eggs through the opening in the front of his dilated pouch. The male looks after the young. Scientists say that the male seahorse can brood 2,000 young at a time, but the average is 300-700 babies. 

The Big Bellied Seahorse is found in the oceans of New Zealand and southeast Australia. It is one of the largest seahorses in the world, growing to about 35 centimetres (14 inches) tall.

Location of photographs: Aquarium de Paris-Cinéaqua

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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