Usually, once fish eggs are fertilized, they’re on their own. Sea-horse males, however, care for their eggs until they hatch. Seahorses are the only animals in the entire animal kingdom in which the male, not the female gives birth and cares for their young!

After a courtship that unfolds over a period of several days, the female lays her eggs in a brood pouch located on the male’s stomach. The interior of this pouch is lined with soft tissue; once the male fertilises the eggs with his sperm, the pouch serves as an incubator. Gestation can take anywhere from 10 to 45 days, depénding on the species, and during this time the female may pay periodic visits to the male.

When the eggs are ready to hatch, the male goes through  several hours of labor in which forceful contractions expel the tiny babies through a hole in the
brood pouch.

Typically, around 100 to 300 miniature seahorses are released at birth, but among the smaller species, the number may be much lower—in the single digits, even—while in the larger species it can be as high as 1,500 or 2,000. Once the juveniles are in the water, the male’s fatherly instinct ends and they must fend for themselves.

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