BLUE REEF CELEBRATES FISHY FATHERS- July 2016

Shoals of sea-going super dads are taking centre stage this weekend (June 18th-19th) at Tynemouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium to celebrate Father’s Day.

All the daily talks and activities will focus attention on the aquarium’s hard-working piscine papas and there will also be a fishy fathers’ quiz and a craft area where children can colour in a fish-themed Father’s Day card.

Blue Reef Aquarium’s Rosie Wiggin said: “We always celebrate Mother’s Day so we thought it was only fair that fishy fathers should also get some recognition.

“In some cases it’s the males that actually do most of the hard work when it comes to looking after the babies,” she added.

Clownfish lay their eggs among the tentacles of stinging anemones for protection.

The attentive males carefully fan the eggs using their fins and will often manoeuvre the anemone’s tentacles to provide a protective canopy above the developing fish.

In fact they are so protective that they have even been known to attack divers who venture too close to their young!

Clownfish in Anemone Tentacles (Copiar)

It’s the same story with would-be dads among the sea-going corkwing wrasse family who also do all the nest-building in readiness for the big day.

However the fishy world’s most famous fathers are undoubtedly members of the seahorse, and closely related pipefish, families.

They are virtually 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.

The fathers develop a special lining in the pouch which gives the growing babies oxygen and food while they develop.

Pregnant males eventually ‘give birth’ to the tiny replicas of the adults after about two to six months, depending on the species. Some species can give birth to up to 1,500 babies at any one time!
Pair of seahorses (Copiar)

Pregnant male snake pipefish at Tynemouth's Blue Reef Aquarium (Copiar)