These animals, fishes are more than dads

Barbour’s seahorse (Hippocampus barbouri)

Barbour’s seahorse (Hippocampus barbouri)

WHILE most countries dedicate a day for the dads, the fathers, the papas, and whichever term of endearment they call their main male figures; it looks like fatherhood is not just for humans but for the rulers of the Philippine forests and reefs as well.

Here are six fathers proving that, not only male humans are capable of being tagged as “Best Dad Ever.”

1. Barbour’s seahorse (Hippocampus barbouri)
While it is common knowledge to have mothers undergo the labors of pregnancy, when it comes to the seahorses, it is the males who carry their babies.

Much similar to how humans become a couple, the reproduction of seahorses begin with daily interaction. Two seahorses dance, intertwine their tails, and swim together. Eventually, they engage to a “courtship dance” which may last for eight hours, and will end when the female deposits her eggs to the male. Male seahorses have a pouch that can carry as many as 2000 eggs at a time.

Many scientists think that the dance is meant to synchronize the movements preparing both for the transfer of the eggs. However, the highlight of a seahorse’s pregnancy of 10-25 days is how the fathers regulate the salinity of the water in its pouch to prepare their babies once they swim into the “real waters.”

2. Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
Now before you get back on the nostalgia of Marlin’s adventure to find Nemo in “Finding Nemo,” let us honor the fact that all clown fishes are born male but develop female reproductive organs when needed. Male clown fishes can change into female once a female clownfish in the school dies. However, this is irreversible. Female clown fishes lay their eggs on a flat surface, close to the sea anemone which they inhabit, and can lay hundred to thousands of eggs at one time depending on the species.

They may not travel the East Australian Current (EAC), or battle three sharks all the way to Sydney in the movie, but a male clownfish will guard and protect these eggs until they hatch for over a week, much similar to how father instincts include protection of their family as number one priority.

3. Pheasant-tailed Jacana
If there is a “Single Dad” award in a drama called “Ten Dads and the Mom that Got Away,” maybe it is perfect for the breeding season of this species. A female may mate up to 10 male Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, in which each will raise its own brood. Instead of the mothers doing the incubating, it is the dad’s duty as well. A female visits each male, delivering six to eight clutches of four eggs – for a total of 24-36 eggs a year.

While the words “cautious” are often associated with mothers with regards to their children, the Pheasant-tailed Jacana fathers, prove that it is always the case for every parent regardless of gender. These birds are careful in preening their feathers, especially the breast part for it to be quite dry, ready and warm. They will spread their legs, scoop its eggs, hugging these delicate ones with its wings and pressing them gently against its breast.

This cuddling and nuzzling does not end even when the eggs hatch. Two to three times in an hour, the father gathers his chicks, and broods them under his abdomen or wings. Indeed, sometimes a hug is what one needs.

4. Ring-tailed Cardinal Fish (Ostorhinchus aureus)
They say that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and a way through his stomach is through the mouth. In the case of the Ring-Tailed Cardinal Fish, the male takes care of the eggs and breeds them in its mouth.

The mother releases a cloud of eggs next to the male Cardinal fish. Being the responsible father that he is, this Cardinal fish takes all of it in his mouth to protect his children. Once in a while, it will open its mouth to clean, rotate and aerate the eggs. Fatherhood is not all about leading and protecting, after all “sacrifice” may be the most fitting for this species. Since for weeks, this dad will not eat until the babies hatch.

5. Rufous-headed Hornbill (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni)
The males of this critically-endangered species sure are one of the bravest dads out there in the wild. Hornbills are fond of creating their nests on large tree cavities. For protection, the mother and the chicks are almost wholly sealed inside the hole, with mud and saliva to block the entrance.

This mom and dad pair is considered to be really protective and territorial, and are aggressive in defending their nest and territory. However much like a soldier defending its country, while its family is well-protected and hidden, the father is the front liner. His duty is to find food for its family to survive.

6. Philippine Frogmouth (Batrachostomus septimus)
Moms often take care of the house, while the father works in the day, and the nights are usually the time to rest. This is however not the case for Philippine Frogmouths.

This wide-beaked nocturnal birds prepare their nest made from their own downy feathers, on horizontal branches. But what makes these pair of birds unique is that, during the day it is actually the father’s job to incubate the eggs. Females are to replace them at night.

Fathers continue to be a “pillar of the home,” and this transcends not only for humans but in the animal kingdom as well.

Stentor Danielson (2002, June 14) Seahorse Fathers Take Reins in Childbirth. National Geographic News.

Kai Coyote. (2008-2016) Clown Fish.

Dr. Krishna Mohan. ( 2010 October 13) Pheasant-tailed Jacana.

(2004-6) Ring-tailed cardinalfish – Apogon aureus.

The EDGE of Existence Programme. Rufous-headed Hornbill-(Aceros waldeni). 2003del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1999. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 5: Barn-owls to Hummingbirds. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Sabina Halim is an exchange participant from Indonesia currently under AIESEC’s Project Lifeboat. While Bea Kirstein T. Manalaysay is at the 3rd year BA in Communication student at the Far Eastern University (FEU) and editor in chief of Advocate, FEU’s campus paper. She is currently Haribon’s intern in the Communications & Information Department.

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