Seahorses are unique in many ways, so much so that the male seahorse is the one to carry offspring and give birth. This process is emotionally and physically draining for the male seahorse, but does it cause them to die?
No, male seahorses do not die after giving birth. While many other species of animals die after giving birth, the seahorse isn’t one of them. They are able to bare the pregnancy and successfully birth forth live offspring through several mating cycles. Death after birth may be caused by other issues. Their life doesn’t end, at the end of a gestation period.
The seahorse is probably the only fish to ever experience male birth. We know that the gestation period is very taxing energetically since the developing offspring require nourishment, protection, and a suitable environment to develop.
Strangely, the male seahorse is suitable and well-equipped for the pregnancy duration.
Their broodpouch serves as a safe protected environment in which the fry develops, males also have the energy that’s needed for the development phase as well as for protection.
The male seahorse is perfectly adapted for the pregnancy process and they are able to carry offspring many times.
Their lives don’t come to an end after a mating cycle, as a fact they can even give birth and be pregnant again on the same day.
Death after birth isn’t the norm, there may be other causes of death that are shadowed by the pregnancy.
If your male seahorse died after giving birth there may be other environmental or health issues that caused the death, birth alone may be a contributing factor but not necessarily the cause of death.
Possible Causes Of Death After Birth?
Seahorses experience a very high death rate in the wild and also when bred in captivity.
One of the reasons why seahorses give birth to so many offspring so fast is to maintain their population for a greater chance of survival.
There are many reasons for the death of a male seahorse after giving birth, some of which include
Stress is a silent killer in seahorses which both captive-bred and wild seahorses experience. There are many factors that contribute to stress.
One of which is the stress and difficulty of the birth process.
While birth doesn’t cause a male seahorse to die it could contribute to their death.
For instance, if a seahorse’s health is already compromised and he gets pregnant, this could be overwhelming and physically draining.
Even though death is not common after birth, it’s possible.
2. Pouch Emphysema.
This is a form of gas bubble disease that develops in the pouch of male seahorses. The gas that’s trapped in the broodpouch can cause all sorts of buoyancy issues.
While very uncommon, pregnant males can sometimes develop gas in the broodpouch from embryos not developing correctly.
This will affect their overall movements and affect feeding. If left untreated this can soon lead to hunger, excess stress, and a compromised immune system leaving them susceptible to infections and possibly death.
3. Environmental Conditions.
Environmental factors play a huge role in the well-being of seahorses in both wild and captive-bred seahorses.
Seahorses require certain water parameters, specific temperatures, salinity, and environment for them to thrive. Changes in these can be detrimental to their health.
Environmental conditions are one of the major causes of death in seahorses.
Specifically in captive-bred seahorses, it’s difficult to maintain a constant environment for them to thrive.
4. Sickness And Disease.
Seahorses can harbor many bacteria and parasites without it even affecting them but once their health becomes compromised these inhabitants take the opportunity to overtake their host.
Birth is a stressful process and stress can negatively affect the health of a seahorse leading to its decline.
Once a seahorse has given birth the stress and trauma of birth can leave a seahorse compromised providing the perfect conditions for these hosts to take over.
As a result, the seahorse will be susceptible to infections and parasites which will consume its host if not treated.
What Happens During Birth?
After the newly deposited eggs have been fertilized and fully developed in the broodpouch of the male seahorse, it’s time for birth.
During the birth process, the male seahorse’s body goes through certain processes that stimulate its body to expel these live fry out the opening of its broodpouch.
It’s almost like contractions that work together with the necessary muscles in helping the seahorse to birth forth.
The only problem is that oxytocin is the hormone required for the birth process, but male seahorses don’t have this hormone.
It turns out the anal fin and skeletal muscles that power it is key to the mystery of seahorse birth.
The male seahorse will press and relax its abdomen for the birth to take place.
Before you know it, the swollen belly has now delivered thousands of healthy live offspring. This brings the mating cycle to an end.
Is It Painful For A Male Seahorse To Give Birth?
Even though we may not know the real extent of what occurs in the seahorse’s body while giving birth, we can say that this process is painful and extremely exhausting.
Once the fry has fully developed and formed the male seahorse’s body will go through rigorous processes to get them ready for the birth process.
These processes involve the opening of the broodpouch, the expulsion of live offspring, and the contractions that are required to expel the fry.
The stimulation of the skeletal muscles and opening of the broodpouch is a natural response that the males go through once its time for birth.
This is very stressful and painful for the male seahorse to go through.
So much so that some inexperienced males can even die after giving birth since they can’t deal with the stressful changes their bodies are going through.
Pregnancy is a stressful process in seahorses, their little bodies go through so much in such a short period of time.
We can tell by the fact that nature intended for the male and female seahorses to share this journey.
This is probably the reason why the male seahorse is the only species that experience the birth process.
What Happens After Birth?
Once the male seahorse gives birth, the newly delivered fry must fend for themselves in order to survive.
Seahorses give birth to live offspring, though very small in size they must take care of themselves to ensure survival.
This is why the death rate in seahorses is so high. These small creatures can become prey to other larger wildlife.
The poor survival rate is the reason why they birth so many offspring, and why they can become pregnant soon after giving birth.
The entire mating cycle of seahorses is structured in a way to ensure survival. Knowing that from every birth only around 5 fry survive.
Even within a closed system, it’s very difficult to breed seahorses.
While the replicating of their environment is challenging the main struggle faced is keeping these fry alive.
The tiny infants are so small that they cannot eat what adult seahorses eat, they require a special diet.
Seahorses are resilient creatures that despite their small size can face adversity successfully.
Even though the mating and gestation period is quite challenging and stressful, the male seahorse can continue to bring forth live offspring while the female seahorse can develop new eggs in no time.
These creatures are simply magnificent and almost magical to an extent.