TAMPA, Fla. — At the Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa, marine biologist Rachel Serafin is just like a mom, feeding, taking care of and making sure all the fish stay healthy.
And while mothers traditionally get much of the credit when it comes to caring for their young, at the aquarium there’s one species that takes being a father to a whole new level.
“They hold the eggs in their pouches and they give live birth,” said Serafin describing seahorses as a unique species whose males give birth to their offspring, complete with contractions and a big belly.
“They definitely feel a little uncomfortable and they want nothing to do with the female when they come around to see if he’s OK.”
The seahorse can give birth to between 10 and up to 1,000 live babies. The “labor” can often take all day.
“Wow… I couldn’t imagine that,” said one father when asked about the role reversal. “That would be quite extreme for men.”
“It is hard to give birth … and I’ve seen it up and close,” said Sriram Ramanathan while at the aquarium Friday evening with his two sons.
And while the seahorse may be the only animal where the males give live birth to babies, human dads may still have a leg up over their seahorse counterparts.
“When he gives birth it’s all over after that,” said Serafin of the seahorse involvement in raising their young.
While seahorse dads may not hang around, many human fathers are much better, teaching, providing for, and serving as role models for their kids for many years to come.