What with the Duchess of Cambridge’s imminent arrival, babies have been on everyone’s mind recently but Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary aquarist Natalie Emmerson has been entrusted with a very special job … nurse to a fast-growing litter of seahorses.
Feeding and caring for around 20 fast-growing baby Australian big-bellied seahorses is a huge responsibility for the 28-year-old displays team member.
Now around six weeks old, the 20 babies have grown tenfold, from around 2mm at birth to 20mm.
The litter originally numbered around 100, but seahorse offspring are so delicate and tiny that only around one in every thousand is believed to reach maturity in the wild.
“To have 20 still flourishing after six weeks is a remarkable achievement,” said Natalie, “Each passing day increases their prospects of reaching full maturity.”
Natalie’s duties include feeding her growing infants four times daily.
They have now progressed from newly hatched microscopic brine shrimp to adult brine shrimp.
“They don’t have a stomach as such, and need to eat almost continuously to extract sufficient nourishment from their food,” she said.
“The babies have their own special nursery pen floating in the tank their proud parents occupy.”