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Topics: Fish, deadbeat dad

Monday, 20 July 2009

image for Deadbeat Dads Ruining Reef Life, Say Single Seahorse Moms
Without help rearing fry, single working seahorse moms resort to makeshift shelters like this for fry.

CAPE HATTERAS, NC - Hippocampus erectus dads have been neglecting their responsibilities too often lately, say seahorse moms, and it's leaving deep scars in their coral reef community.

"He said he didn't want to do an 8-hour courtship dance because his love was 'too strong' to be expressed by some lame tradition or a ritual. Psshh!!" said one, remembering her encounter with a male who called himself "War Admiral."

"Personally, I think he just couldn't wait for me to stick my ovipositor all up inside him," she added; nevertheless, she said she naively succumbed to the charms of the dashing 7-inch seahorse, depositing her eggs in his protruding pouch.

She left to go find food shortly thereafter, but when she returned from her 100-yard journey, battling tidal ebb and predatory fish far swifter than she, all she found was a litter of 100-200 eggs strewn about his allotted one square yard of territory.

Mary Secretariat, a third-generation seahorse from the Cape Hatteras area, said her babies' daddy has been hanging around brackish waters with Black Molly, a female fish known to carry her own young to term and bear them live.

Sally Seabiscuit of Hilton's Head Island, North Carolina indicated she didn't know how she might have come down with "a real nasty case of hermit crabs" until she caught her seahorse in a bed of eel grass with two pipefish and a fifteen-spined stickleback.

When she confronted him about it, he made a break for the home stretch, but not to her home, swimming off into the sunset that very night, leaving her to fend for her young, alone.

Dr. C. Waters, a maritime sociologist, says the trend is exacting a "heavy toll" on the seahorse community.

"It's always been a 'fish eat fish' world, yes," he said. "I get it. Nevertheless, without adequate parental care, these small fry are going to get eaten alive out there in the real ocean. Sure, it's fun to spread your seed to the seven seas, but still waters run deep.

"Clearly, these philanderers aren't worth their salt."

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