Seahorses are remarkably chivalrous creatures. They have no teeth or stomach, spend most of their lives eating plankton, and are terrible swimmers—they can die of exhaustion in stormy seas. But that hasn’t stopped the steeds of the ocean from being the best dads ever.
When it’s time to make babies, interested females deposit their eggs in the male seahorse’s pouch where they are fertilised and remain until it’s time for the little ones to be born. It’s the males that carry the eggs to term—as many as 2,000 of them—for anywhere between ten days and four weeks.
Seahorses, which people often forget belong to the fish family, populate the tropical and temperate waters of the world. They are about as delicate and romantic as they look. Couples court with a “pre-dawn dance” when two seahorses intertwine tails and swim together. Scientists suggest that the dance helps them coordinate movements in the ocean current, in preparation for the baby-making. “Their mating ritual is quite beautiful,” says Sarah Foster, a research biologist from McGill University in Montreal. It can sometimes last as long as eight hours, and culminates with the female impregnating her chosen mate.
See them here To catch these golden daddies in action, dive into the waters around the Andaman Islands, inhabited by species including the tiger tail seahorse. Named for its striped tails, the tiger tail seahorse is also found in South East Asian seas of Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Fabiola Monteiro was formerly a member of National Geographic Traveller India's digital team. Since then, her words have featured in The Hindu, Mint Lounge, Roads & Kingdoms, The Goya Journal, and Condé Nast Traveller India. She tweets as @thefabmonteiro and is on Instagram @fabiolamonteiro.