Pot-bellied seahorses are the newest creatures making waves at the New York Aquarium.
The babies -- known as fry, not ponies -- were born to several sets of parents. Pot-bellied seahorses live within rocky reefs in shallow waters and can grow to be up to 13.5 inches. They're native to Australian seas and considered a threatened species, which makes their arrival at the aquarium doubly notable.
Pot-bellied seahorses are protected under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) because they are often collected for traditional medicine, and the pet and curio trade. Without strict CITES regulations in place, the species could face future extinction.
When it comes to breeding seahorses, the Wildlife Conservation Society doesn't horse around.
"The birth of any threatened species helps us further our goal of educating and enlightening people about marine life and ecosystems," Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS Vice President and Director of the WCS New York Aquarium, said in a statement.
Seahorses have a unique way of procreating. The male is the one to give birth. The cycle starts when the female deposits approximately 1,500 eggs in the male’s brood pouch, where they are fertilized. The male holds the eggs for about a month until they hatch and the babies swim out on their own. They are born black but lighten in color as they mature.
When the babies are born they are moved to a separate tank because of their fragility. Because their mouths are so small, keepers make sure they have plenty of tiny food. Their diet consists mainly of freshly hatched brine shrimp. When they are big enough and can eat larger food pieces, keepers will return them to the exhibit with the adults.
The new babies can be seen in the aquarium’s seahorse hall alongside other species such as northern and southern seahorses and pipefish, all located in the indoor/outdoor Sea Cliffs exhibit.
WCS's newest marine program is the New York Seascape, where work is being done in local waters to help save marine species that are either native to or use local New York waterways as a migratory corridor. These species include sharks, skates, rays, horseshoe crabs and many more amazing animals.