Today is dedicated to celebrating all the amazing dads in the world. However, human dads aren’t the only spectacular paternal figures in nature. Here are some examples of great ocean dads who might be as incredible as your dad.
After traveling over 60 miles inland on Antarctica and laying her egg, the female emperor penguin makes the long journey back to the ocean to hunt for food. This leaves the male emperor penguin to care for the egg for two months. Trying to breed in the Antarctic winter was the easy part for these dads. The male will carefully keep his egg covered by his feathered skin, called a brood pouch, to protect it from the extreme Antarctic cold of June and July. While caring for the egg, this penguin dad will forgo eating to ensure his baby’s safety. By the time mom comes back two months later, the male emperor penguin may have lost nearly half of his body weight. Since fat is the main way that emperor penguins stay warm, it’s a testament to these dads’ devotion to their young that they’re able to endure the Antarctic cold on half their body weight. Once reunited, penguin parents share the responsibility of taking care of their chick by taking turns feeding it and keeping it warm.
The most famous ocean dad is the seahorse! The male seahorse, not the female, gives birth to their offspring. The mother seahorse will deposit her eggs into the father’s pouch after an intricate courtship dance. Dad will keep the fertilized eggs in his pouch to develop and regulate the saltiness of the water in the pouch to prepare them for life in the sea. When the little ones are ready, dad will go through contractions and expel them from his pouch. Depending on the seahorse species, about 100 to 200 baby seahorses are born. Baby seahorses then leave dad to make their own way in the ocean.
They may look like balloons that grew eyes and fins, but the males of this fish species are one of the ocean’s most dedicated dads. These fish breed in intertidal waters close to shore. The males get there first, preparing a nest for his future family, usually in a bedrock crevice among kelp or depression in the sea floor. The females will arrive with eggs in tow. Once she finds a nest she likes, mom will deposit her eggs and leave. Dad will then fertilize them and assume all parental responsibilities. Using adhesive discs on his undersides, the father will anchor himself on a nearby rocky surface and stay by his eggs for the next 3 to 8 weeks. He’ll protect his clan from predators and make sure the eggs get enough oxygen by pushing water towards them with his fins. The male will tend the nest until the eggs hatch.
Happy Father’s Day to all the human and animal dads alike! Don’t forget to send your own dad some love with our Father’s Day ecard!