Rare sea dragon pregnancy
dads carry the eggs in this family.
The Atlanta aquarium's sea dragon has about 70 fertilized eggs, which look like small red grapes, attached to his tail.
He is expected to give birth in early to mid-July, says Kerry Gladish, a biologist at the aquarium.
Sea dragons, sea horses and pipe fish are the only species where the male carries the eggs, Gladish said.
Sea dragon pregnancies are rare because researchers don't know what gets them in the mood to mate.
"We know there's something biologically or environmentally that triggers them to want to reproduce, but in the aquarium world, we're not sure what that is," Gladish said.
More news about the rare sea dragon pregnancy
After setting the mood with lighting and finessing, the Georgia Aquarium's attempts to coax rare sea dragons to mate have finally worked -- just in time for Father's Day.
The pregnant male weedy sea dragon is now only the third of its kind in the United States to successfully become pregnant outside of its natural habitat.
The sea dragon, found in nature only in the waters off southern Australia, became pregnant Tuesday when a female transferred her eggs onto his tail.
Dennis Christen, assistant manager of animal care and husbandry, said that male sea horses, sea dragons and pipe fish all carry the eggs instead of the female.
Christen said that recently the staff took steps to try to assist in mating.
They altered the mood by adjusting the lighting and thinning the plants, Christian said.
But so much is unknown about the creatures, including their mating routines, that a lot about the pregnancy remains a mystery, Christen said.
When the animals finally do mate, the sea dragons arch their tails and swim side by side until they latch onto each other before swimming vertically together during their version of a "date."
"When they're courting they do a really ritualistic dance," he said.
What little is known about that dance could hold a key to problems with breeding the animals in small tanks similar to those at the aquarium.