so the angle of view is close to 360º. Their small size and their difficulty to move makes them vulnerable to predators, so they like to settle in shallow areas near the coast, where the vegetation is dense, blending with it to go unnoticed. Their range is reduced to a few hundred meters and it is common for them to remain immobile, wrapping their tail around the plants or any other support in the marine substrate. Seahorses are often monogamous, but this fidelity does not have to last a lifetime. Females and males are similar in physical appearance but constitute an interesting example of sexual dimorphism. One of the sexes has an incubator sac in its belly, where the tail begins, to carry the young until they can fend for themselves. Curiously, it is the males who are in charge of this delicate task; they are the only males in the animal kingdom that get “pregnant”.

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During courtship both sexes float linked by South Sudan Email List the end of the tail, then the female lays her eggs in the male’s sac, which requires perfect coordination, and the male fertilizes them by pouring his sperm over them. Egg production is a very expensive process from the energy point of view, if we consider that a batch of eggs can represent a third of the total weight of the female. Males and females work as a team, while they generate the eggs, they take care of the development of the embryos. Thus, when a male releases his progeny, he is already able to accept another batch of eggs from the female. As has already been said, it is in the incubator bag of the males where the future seahorses will develop, in a process that can last between two and four weeks. Seahorse labor is long and the animal undergoes numerous contractions before “giving birth.” The male presses the

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sac to facilitate the exit of the young. Up to a thousand horses can be born, which are tiny replicas of the father. Unfortunately, its elaborate reproductive strategy does not guarantee the survival of this icon of marine biodiversity, since its particular biological and ecological characteristics make it very vulnerable. It is estimated that each year between 25 and 30 million seahorses are caught for various purposes. For centuries, they have been used in traditional Chinese medicine, but never before have they been depleted in this way. For this reason, the complete genus Hippocampus has been, since 2004, in appendix II of CITES, which is the international convention that controls the trade in threatened species of wild fauna and flora in favor of their conservation. The Museum’s Ichthyology Collection houses 86 specimens of Hippocampus, of which 82 are preserved in 70% ethanol.

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