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18th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
The horses have bolted

Our blue backyard is showcase of incredible marine life and habitats that rival any tropical reef in colour and diversity. It changes with the seasons and is a showcase of nature’s finest especially when you least expect it. Enter one of the most spectacular events I’ve seen in all of my years exploring Port Phillip Bay. As I jumped into the waters off Blairgowrie I was greeted by a sea of baby sea ponies swimming about. It was like a thick soup of these delicate little jewels. These baby sea ponies (or fry which is the correct term) measuring a tiny 2-3cm, were all jostling for a position on floating seagrass, each other and anything that floated by. It was clear that a number of male Short-headed Seahorses had all given birth around the time (yes they’re the only males in the animal kingdom to do so and I'm all here for it...) and there was a lot of them, thousands in fact. And there needs to be. It’s a numbers game with the males giving birth to a around 60 babies at a time. Unfortunately most will get eaten by wrasse (which I witnessed) and other predators. The event is synchronised with extremely high tides which help disperse the young. The few that survive will spend the first 2-3 weeks of their life floating around and moving where the currents take them until they eventually settle down on seaweed. It was a memorable and unique experience. It’s part of the magic and lure of our local marine environment, one that I’m incredibly grateful for.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 11.2020
Date Uploaded: 11.2020
Copyright: © Sheree Marris