Two researchers doing White’s seahorse (Hippocampus whitei) surveys in waters off New South Wales, Australia happened upon a male seahorse about to give birth and caught the entire birthing process on video.
Manning and Project Seahorse Research Assistant Meagan Abele are conducting a seahorse conservation project in Port Stephens and are researching the habitats that offer the best support for seahorses. “This is their time to breed,” said Abele. “Many of the males we’re finding are super pregnant and ready to burst. It’s surreal to watch it happen.”
While witnessing seahorses giving birth is not unusual and is well documented in captive bred specimens for the aquarium hobby, witnessing it occur in the wild is, and the White’s seahorses in the area were in the throes of giving birth.
While the populations of the White’s seahorse, also known as the Sydney seahorse is doing well, other seahorse populations around the world are not. Seahorses are collected in huge sums largely for the traditional Chinese medicine trade, even though there is not a single study pointing out any benefits that eating seahorses has on maladies such as sexual dysfunction, asthma, and wheezing. Project Seahorse, based at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and Zoological Society of London, is a marine conservation group that works to protect seahorses and uses the research that it conducts to better assist seahorse conservation efforts around the world.