It’s not very often that you see dad carrying all the baby weight, but a weedy sea dragon from SeaWorld Orlando has proven his paternal ability by giving birth to his first babies at the marine park.
This rare and exciting event is the first time sea dragon eggs have successfully hatched at a SeaWorld park and is considered a very extraordinary occurrence in aquariums around the world.
Like the closely related sea horse, male sea dragons are actually the ones in charge of bearing young. The female deposits the eggs onto a spongy patch found on the underside of the male’s tail. The eggs are fertilized during this transfer and remain on their father for the next five to nine weeks. Dad is responsible for incubation and care of the eggs until they reach full term.
Close to 100 eggs were laid by the female in June and will continue to hatch over the next couple of weeks. Once the eggs hatch – which is helped by a little tail shake from the male, the tiny sea dragons are on their own. They’ll receive nutrition by absorbing the remains of their yolk sac and from zooplankton found in the water. Once the egg sac has been absorbed, the newborns will begin feeding on newly hatched brine shrimp. The baby sea dragons will take around a year to reach full size.
The sea dragon is a protected animal found naturally in tropical coastal waters of south and west Australia. Due to human invasion and pollution, the numbers of sea dragons that live in their natural environment have drastically dropped since the 1980s.