A rare video has captured the moment when a male white seahorse gave birth to more than 100 babies.
The herd, each smaller than a grain of rice, emerged from their parents’ bags in the final days of 2020 at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.
A few dozen arrived two days before the new year.
Their arrival marks a successful start to the second year of the white seahorse conservation breeding program, started by the aquarium, Fisheries NSW and the Sydney University of Technology.
Aquarium staff said the babies had grown “nice and strong” while their parents kept busy, and more babies were expected in the coming months.
“We learned from our first year of breeding and made changes to the facility, the food source and their breeding routine to develop a more efficient and streamlined program,” said aquarist and seahorse expert Mitchell Brennan.
“We think this may have contributed to such a positive start to the season.”
Protection for the future
The white seahorse conservation breeding program was launched in the second half of 2019, with the goal of determining a successful method of restoring the population.
The species was declared in danger of extinction due to habitat loss.
The program focuses on repopulating the species by establishing new habitats in Sydney Harbor and returning them to the wild.
In its first year, 90 young seahorses born in the program were released at Clifton Gardens to live in artificial habitats called seahorse hotels.
The babies successfully survived their first period in port, with their growth and development closely monitored by aquarium staff, UTS MSc research students, and fishing divers.
Success in this phase was achieved when several of the released seahorses mated and mated with their wild counterparts.
As the conservation program moves into its second year, aquarium scientists and staff will build on the past year and build new improved seahorse hotels that will better facilitate babies once they are introduced into the wild.
The teams will also work together to find two new locations for these hotels on Sydney Harbor.
DPI Fisheries Senior Marine Scientist Dr. David Harasti said the team was “pleased” with the progress of the program.
“Seeing animals released into captivity still alive in the wild eight months after release and reproducing with the local population is a fantastic initial result,” said Dr. Harasti.
UTS professor of marine ecology David Booth supervised the master’s research students during the project.
“So far, the project has been an incredible opportunity for our students to train in understanding the issue of ecology and conservation of these unique creatures,” said Booth.