“Sea horses, more than most animals, inspire wonder—they draw our attention to the astonishing similarities and discontinuities between each kind of creature and every other. They can change color to blend in with their surroundings, and beat their dorsal fins nearly as fast as a hummingbird beats its wings. Because they have no teeth or stomach, food moves through them almost instantly, requiring them to eat constantly. (Hence such adaptations as eyes that move independently, which allow them to search for prey without tunring their heads.) Not terribly good swimmers, they can die of exhaustion when caught in even small currents, so they prefer to anchor themselves to sea grasses or coral, or to each other—they like to swim in pairs, linked by their prehensile tails. Sea horses have complicated routines for courtship, and tend to mate under full moons, making musical sounds while doing so. They live in long-term monogamous partnerships. What is perhaps most unusual, though, is that it is the male sea horses that carries the young for up to six weeks. Males become properly “pregnant,” not only carrying, but fertilizing and nourishing the developing eggs with fluid secretions. The image of males giving birth is perpetually mind-blowing: a turbid liquid bursts forth from the brood pouch, and like magic, minuscule but fully formed sea horses appear out of the cloud.” —
Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer, p.39.
(I interviewed him last Monday and unfortunately forgot to ask for comment on sea horses. Dammit.)