The Story of the Pipe Fish where males do the birthin!



We watched an Eared Grebe wrestle a spindly pipe fish down the hatch in Elkhorn Slough yesterday. More to the Story!

Spring has arrived to the mudflats and eelgrass beds of Elkhorn Slough and the pheromones are floating! Male cormorants are flaring their feathers, female sea otters are sporting red noses and male pipefish are pregnant! One of our more liberated Ostecichthyes, the male bay pipefish carries the load of pregnancy.

A slightly bulbous brood pouch is located on the ventral side of the male, which receives a package of unfertilized eggs from the female pipefish. Like clockwork, sperm fertilizes the eggs. Once properly tucked into the male’s receptacle, skin flaps adhere over the eggs sealing them in for a 2-week journey with Dad at the helm.

As the tiny embryos develop, the male pipefish provides life’s essentials: nutrients, oxygen, water and shelter from the storms. Two weeks later the magic happens. With a few twists and turns, the male pipefish delivers a posy of youngster that split out of the brood pouch and are spitting images of their most liberated parents.