Pot-bellied seahorses, native to Australian Seas, are a threatened species

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Feb. 28, 2012 – The newest animals making waves at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium is a herd of baby pot-bellied seahorses.

When it comes to breeding seahorses, there is definitely no horsing around. These viable newborns are a credit to the aquarium’s expertise in animal-management and husbandry, the science of breeding, raising and caring for animals.

The babies –known as fry, not ponies -- were born to several sets of parents. Their arrival is significant for the New York Aquarium as this is a threatened species.

Pot-bellied seahorses are protected under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) because they are often collected for traditional medicine, and the pet and curio trade. Without strict CITES regulations in place, this animal could face future extinction.

“It is very exciting to announce the successful propagation of these pot-bellied seahorses," said Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS Vice President and Director of the WCS New York Aquarium. “The birth of any threatened species helps us further our goal of educating and enlightening people about marine life and ecosystems. Being a world leader in conservation, WCS also does a lot of work in the field. Our expansive Global Marine program conducts conservation efforts in 20 countries and all four oceans around the world."

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.

The New York Aquarium and WCS’s other facilities have a long tradition of excellence in animal husbandry sciences. The successful breeding of these seahorses is a testament to that leadership. The animal department at the aquarium has been working with seahorses since its opening, and this particular species has been continuously in the collection since 2000.

Seahorses have a unique way of procreating. It is actually the male that gives birth. The cycle starts when the female deposits approximately 1,500 eggs in the male’s brood pouch where they are then 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.

Pot-bellied seahorses are native to Australian seas. They live within rocky reefs in shallow waters. They can grow to be up to 13.5 inches.

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. 

Barbara Russo - 718-265-3428; brusso@wcs.org
Max Pulsinelli - 718-220-5182; mpulsinelli@wcs.org
Steve Fairchild – 718-220-5189; sfairchild@wcs.org

Wildlife Conservation Society's New York Aquarium opens every day of the year at 10am, and closing times vary seasonally. Admission is $14.95 for adults, $10.95 for children ages 3-12 and $11.95 for senior citizens (65 and older); children under 3 years of age are admitted free. Fridays after 3pm, admission is by suggested donation. The Aquarium is located on Surf Avenue at West 8th Street in Coney Island. For directions, information on public events and programs, and other Aquarium information, call 718-265-FISH or visit our web site at http://www.nyaquarium.com. Now is the perfect time to visit and show support for the New York Aquarium, Brooklyn's most heavily attended attraction and a beloved part of the City of New York.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.