Bay City News—A brood of weedy sea dragon babies finished hatching last week at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, aquarium officials said.
The fish, a native of the eastern coasts of Australia, is closely related to seahorses, pipefish and leafy sea dragons, according to the aquarium.
The father held the pouch of eggs under his tail after their roughly six-week gestation period. The 80 eggs started hatching on July 22 and finished on Thursday, aquarium officials said. The hatchlings are 1-inch long, but on average grow to be about 18-inches long.
The father delivered the young in a sea dragon display that’s part of the aquarium’s special exhibition, “The Secret Lives of Seahorses.” The last eggs hatched on Aug. 2.
The young are being raised behind the scenes for now, said Associate Curator of Fish and Invertebrates Jonelle Verdugo, who heads the seahorse husbandry team at the aquarium. If they survive and thrive, visitors may get to see them as part of the special exhibition. Others will be transferred to colleague institutions with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The male, who receives the eggs from the female, changes his swim pattern in the wild to distribute the eggs over a larger area once hatching begins, aquarium officials said.
The Monterey aquarium became the fifth in the nation and North American region to successfully hatch the fish. Although not classified as threatened in the wild, the seahorse-like fish are considered vulnerable because of over-collecting for home aquariums.
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