Two researchers from the University of British Columbia have filmed a rare video of a seahorse giving birth in the wild.
The pregnant father can be seen clinging to seagrass, as tiny, thread-like creatures emerge from a pouch on his abdomen, before being swept away in the fast moving water.
Clayton Manning and Meagan Abele witnessed the birth off the coast of New South Wales, Australia as part of Project Seahorse, a marine conservation program based out of UBC and the Zoological Society of London.
"We were doing a survey and found a very, very pregnant male that had a tiny tail sticking out of his brood pouch," said Manning.
"I had just finished getting his measurements and a baby shot out of the opening. So we sat back and watched the father for a while."
Manning, a master's student, and Abele, a research assistant, are currently based in Port Stephens, where they are observing the White's seahorse, also known as the Sydney seahorse, or by its Latin name Hippocampus whitei.
Unusually, in the seahorse world, it is the females that deposit eggs into a pouch on the male's abdomen. The pregnant males then fertilize, carry and feed the embryos.
White's seahorses carry the babies for three weeks before giving birth to a fully formed baby seahorse; between 100 and 250 babies are born at a time.
"This is their time to breed," said Abele, a UBC alumna. "Many of the males we're finding are super pregnant and ready to burst. It's surreal to watch it happen."