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Question: Why do male seahorses get pregnant? (That was weird to type.)

Asked by hannahjanehunt to Matt, Tom, Antonia, Douglas, Hugh on 25 Jun 2010 in Categories: .

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  • Photo: Antonia HamiltonAntonia Hamilton answered on 21 Jun 2010:

    why not? maybe it would be good if more males did the childcare!

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  • Photo: Matthew HurleyMatthew Hurley answered on 21 Jun 2010:

    The males probably house the developing young to protect them for predators. The male has a brood pouch into which the mother injects her eggs. The male then fertilises them in his pouch.

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  • Photo: Tom HardyTom Hardy answered on 22 Jun 2010:

    They don’t actually get pregnant. A female sea horse lays her eggs in a males pouch so that the male is responsable for carrying the developing seahorses and the birth. It is a way of sharing the responsibility.

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  • Photo: Douglas BlaneDouglas Blane answered on 25 Jun 2010:

    OK, the way it works is that the female seahorse lays her eggs into something the male has, called a brood pouch.

    The dad now has to fertilise the eggs, which he does by releasing sperm into the brood pouch.

    But the pouch is much more than just a bag for eggs. Once they’ve been fertilised, tissue from the dad grows around the eggs to look after them.

    Then when they hatch his body keeps looking after them in the pouch, very much the same as a woman’s body – or any other female mammal’s – looks after her baby in the womb.

    So the dad seahorse keeps blood flowing around the little embryos, controls how much salt they get, and provides them with all the oxygen and food they need until they’re born.

    I think it’s amazing. And they’re beautiful little animals.

    There’s a lovely vid about them here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbfhAKS6r38

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