Staff at Macduff Marine Aquarium are celebrating the first birthday of their baby seahorse, born at the aquarium in June 2018.
Spiny seahorses are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity and have an extremely low survival rate. In the wild, only one in 1000 spiny seahorses is thought to make it to adulthood.
Last year, the spiny seahorse male at the aquarium gave birth several times, but only one plucky youngster has managed to make it to its first birthday.
Having no experience of breeding native seahorses, when the aquarium staff first realised the male was 'pregnant' last year, they put a call out to colleagues in the industry for advice - and the answer came back... 'good luck with that!'
Seahorses have no stomach so have to eat almost constantly to gain the nutrition they need. When the babies are born, they are only a few millimeters long and very vulnerable. The aquarium team had to cultivate live brine shrimp and feed the seahorse babies newly hatched shrimps every two hours. This regime was continued for 6 months when 4 babies were thought to be big enough to join their parents in the aquarium display. Although apparently in good health on display and eating well, three of the babies sadly didn't make it much longer, but the one remaining baby is happily swimming about and enjoying the attention and extra birthday rations!
The spiny seahorses will soon be joined by some new short-snouted seahorses that have recently been purchased to add to the aquarium's native seahorse display, thanks to a donation from the Friends of Macduff Marine Aquarium.