Watching a Male Seahorse Birth 2,000 Babies is Horrifying and Awesome at the Same Time

Image: Maelick/Flickr

Childbirth is an enormous responsibility that nearly always falls on females—but a few brave males shoulder the burden too. And as a female who has vaguely contemplated the possibility of having children, I don’t envy them for a second.

Seahorses are one of two groups of animals (along with pipefish) where the male carries babies to term. First, the lady seahorse deposits her eggs in her man’s brood pouch. The eggs are internally fertilized with the male’s sperm, and after a 10 to 25 day gestation period, he churns out a brood (clutch, litter, swarm?) of tiny, fully-formed seahorses. Thousands of them.


National Geographic, ever seeking to enlighten the public, has captured the miracle of life on video. It will make you squirm. You will feel unclean and wrong having watched. But perhaps, you’ll find yourself a bit more appreciative toward all the dudes out there pulling their weight to keep the family line going. I certainly am.


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Maddie Stone

Maddie Stone is a freelancer based in Philadelphia.