Most know that male seahorses are the baby bearers of the species. What few know is how shockingly strange seahorse birth actually looks.
The fact that seahorse birth is handled by the males, and not the females, is likely common knowledge, but still a strikingly rare thing in nature. In fact, seahorses are one of only two animal groups where the male is the one that gives birth (the other is the pipefish, a more ruthless male carrier that aborts embryos from ugly mothers).
No matter how fascinating you find that fact, actually watching a seahorse give birth on video can be a little off-putting, to say the least.
Male seahorses get the raw end of the stick. The female takes her eggs and deposits them directly into a pouch with a tube-like object called an “ovipositor.” The male then fertilizes the eggs with sperm while they are already inside of him, gestates them for 10 to 25 days, and then fires them out.
During birth, thousands of miniscule seahorses — shaped exactly like their parents — shoot into the wide, wide ocean (or fish tank).
National Geographic explains this all in a birthing video that is almost too graphic to watch, as thousands of the tiny creatures are violently expelled from the male seahorse, rocking back and forth with each release as though letting out an explosive sneeze.
With a survival rate of only five in every thousand newborns, however, it’s understandable that these creatures evolved to give birth in such enormous numbers.
For more insane marine animals, check out ten of the most amazing facts about ocean animals, and then see rhinconichthys, the incredible prehistoric fish recently discovered in Colorado.