Most of us like to think seahorse pregnancy is all beautiful mating dance rituals and a quick 9 to 45 days of blissful gestation, but believe us, there are a lot of disgusting truths that nobody’s talking about… until now.
1) Seahorse dads have a “brood pouch” that carries the young and it’s actually just modified abdominal skin. Some people have heard about that, but not nearly enough.
2) When eggs “arrive” into the male seahorse’s open brood pouch (ew) the pouch seals up and poses a risk for bacteria and other gross stuff to make themselves at home. His immune system will have to work extra hard to keep things clean in there, and most people have no idea because not enough of us are having that conversation.
3) The male’s brood pouch thickens and develops more blood vessels when carrying a brood of several hundred to as many as 2000 embryos at a time, depending on the species. Bet the girls at brunch leave out that little factoid!
4) To nourish the embryos, pregnant seahorse dad bods produce “uterine milk” and while that may seem gross and weird to you, the REAL gross/weird thing is our SILENCE when it comes to this subject.
5) About a week before birth, seahorse embryos will respond to signals from dad by hatching out of their thin membranes to swim freely while still inside the brood pouch. We should be able to openly talk about this. It is the year 2016.
6) Seahorse babies are known as “fry” and to expel them, the male seahorse undergoes muscular contractions which can last up to 12 hours. Sorry for the mental image, but someone’s gotta say it.
7) The reproduction cycle of seahorses can be pretty short. Some males can give birth in the morning and be pregnant again by evening. How embarrassing. No wonder you never hear about that one!