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Why Are Seahorses Monogamous?

Updated May 16, 2024
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While monogamy is treasured in many cultures, does the same hold true in the animal kingdom? As it turns out, monogamy is not a particularly widespread practice. Seahorses are one significant exception.

Most seahorses are monogamous and mate for life. This is mainly because they are poor swimmers and have trouble finding mates. Hiding from predators is a full-time job for these creatures, so it’s no mystery as to why they choose to stick with a mate when they find one. Evidence also suggests that the longer a pair is together, the more successful they become at breeding, which in turn leads to more offspring.

Seahorse couples even engage in ritualistic dances. These moves can last from mere minutes up to hours on end and are utilized to strengthen a couple’s bond. This also helps to ensure that their reproductive cycles are synced.

Surprisingly, it is the male seahorse that actually gives birth to the young. The female deposits eggs into the male during mating, and the male carries them around until they are fully developed. As many as 1,000 babies can be born in a single birthing session.

More seahorse facts:

  • To date, scientists have recorded more than 40 known seahorse species.

  • Less than 0.5% of newborn seahorses reach adulthood. This low survival rate is mostly due to their susceptibility to predators and powerful ocean currents washing them away from feeding grounds.

  • The digestive system of a seahorse requires them to eat constantly. A seahorse can eat up to 3,000 crustaceans in a day.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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