Marine animals that bond for life

Like the short-lived Hiddleswift romance, most marine animals don’t settle down with a single mate for life. That said, here are 5 exceptions that prefer the ideal of “till death do us part” instead of just getting ‘loki’ (lucky).

French Angelfish

french angelfish
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Typically in pairs, French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru) form monogamous bonds that often last as long as both individuals are alive. They are usually seen living, travelling and even hunting together. They even act as a team to vigorously defend their territory against neighbouring pairs.

Seahorse

seahorse

Seahorses are truly unique creatures. These upright swimmers don’t just mate for life, the males even carry the unborn young in a brood pouch on their ventral side until the babies are hatched. What’s more, Seahorses have neither teeth nor stomach. And because food passes through their digestive systems so quickly, they need to eat constantly by using their elongated snouts to suck in plankton and small crustaceans.

Hawksbill Turtle

Hawksbill Turtle

Researchers from University of East Anglia took DNA samples from Hawksbill Turtles on Cousine Island in the Seychelles. Their findings revealed that Hawksbill Turtles are monogamous. “Our research also shows that, unlike in many other species, the females normally mate with just one male, they rarely re-mate within a season and they do not seem to be selecting specific ‘better quality’ males to mate with,” said lead researcher Dr. David Richardson, from UAE’s School of Biological Sciences.

Bonnethead Shark

bonnethead shark

In 2004, conservation geneticist Mahmood Shivji and colleagues at Nova Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute in Florida shared their findings on Bonnethead Shark paternity in the July issue of Molecular Ecology.

After identifying paternal DNA in 22 Bonnethead Shark litters caught off the Florida Gulf coast, they found that 80% of the litters had just one father. This discovery of genetic monogamy was particularly surprising, the researchers said, given that sharks don’t form stable pair bonds or provide care for their offspring.

Anglerfish

The Anglerfish’s “love story” is the epitome of “till death do us part”. The male Anglerfish is tiny compared to the female, and its only way to survive is to find a mate. When it does, it bites into her skin and permanently fuse his face to her body so that their circulatory systems merge. From then on, she provides him with sustenance while he provides her with sperm.

So is it love? Or is it survival instinct? Until science has some definitive data, we say it’s perhaps it’s a bit of both.

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