Delighted keepers at Tynemouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium are celebrating the birth of a dozen rare seahorses.
The babies are members of what’s believed to be the world’s largest species of seahorse – the Australian big-belly – which can reach in excess of 20cms.
The youngsters, which measure only a few centimetres in length, are the latest success story in the aquarium’s ongoing captive breeding programme for the graceful creatures.
Their parents, who were also part of a breeding programme, arrived at the North Tyneside attraction last year.
“The parents‘ have been displaying to each other and taking part in courtship rituals for several weeks now so we were hopeful that the signs were positive,” explained Blue Reef’s Anna Etchells.
“Then earlier this week we discovered a dozen tiny babies swimming around the display. Since then they have given birth to a second batch and they are also doing well,” she added.
The newborn babies have been carefully removed from the main display and are being looked after in the aquarium’s quarantine facility.
The seahorse is unique in the animal kingdom in that it is the male rather than the female which carries the babies and gives birth to them via a special brood pouch on their stomach.
In the wild virtually all of the approximate 35 species of seahorse are now under threat from a variety of sources.
These include loss of habitat, pollution, the souvenir trade and traditional Far East medicine – believed to account for the deaths of more than 20 million seahorses annually.
The big-bellied seahorses at the Blue Reef Aquarium are part of a captive-breeding programme which aims to ease the pressure on wild populations.
Issued by the Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information please contact Anna Etchells on 0191 258 1031.