Which marine animals are ‘super mums’?

In the underwater world, there exists many types of parenting. The majority of marine animals, such as fish, sharks, sea jelly and corals, do not take care of their young at all. For example, many fish release many eggs or sperm into the water and leave them in the wild to fertilise or hatch. Sometimes these floating fertilised eggs are eaten by other marine animals.

However, there are other aquatic animals which make dedicated parents, though some might not live to see their young grow up. Some take care of the eggs until they hatch, protect their young in their mouths or even nurse them for up to 18 months.

We take a look at six S.E.A. Aquarium ‘super mums’ of the sea; the last one is quite unexpected.


berried lobster
There is a v-notch on this berried lobster’s tail to let fishermen know that she is a breeding lobster and to release her if she is caught.


Unlike other fish which lay eggs in the wild and forget about them, female lobsters carry their fertilised bright orange eggs on their undersides for nine to 11 months until they hatch.

These berried lobsters (as lobsters with eggs are called) are so important that it is illegal to fish them in the United States and Canada. A fisherman who catches such a lobster would make a v-notch on the tail and release her. The v-notch lets other fishermen know that she is a breeding female and to release her if they catch one in the future. This prevents the overfishing of lobsters.


Dolphin calf

Female humans carry their babies for nine months before giving birth. The pregnancy period for a female dolphin is longer at 12 months.

The dolphin continues to breastfeed her calf for around 18 months around the clock. However, a dolphin calf has been observed nursing up to the age of ten. Imagine a 10-year-old child who is still drinking breast milk!

Learn more about dolphin calves.



I wonder what's the relationship of these clownfishes.

What if your father becomes your mother? That’s why happens to the clownfish when the female clownfish dies.

There is only one female clownfish in each group and she is the largest and most dominant fish. Only the female and the largest male will breed. The female lays eggs and the couple take turns guarding the eggs until they hatch in a week’s time.

But when the female clownfish dies, the second biggest clownfish would turn into a female clownfish and becomes the leader. That’s some dedication.

Find out more about clownfish in this two-part blog post: Facts you didn’t know about clownfish: Part 1 and Part 2.



Venustus cichlid
Venustus cichlid

What animal puts their babies in their mouth (and not accidentally swallow them) for protection? The cichlid does.

Instead of letting their eggs float in the water and be eaten by other animals, some cichlid mums protect their eggs by holding them in their mouth. These fish are known as “mouthbrooders”.

After the eggs hatch, the mother still carries the young (known as “fry”) for a few days to ensure their survival.


Queen triggerfish at S.E.A. Aquarium
Queen triggerfish

While we know that birds build nests to lay eggs, do you know that some fish do the same to house their young?

The triggerfish blows water into the sand to create their nest. After spawning, the female triggerfish guards the eggs and fan and blow water on the eggs to provide oxygen.

The male triggerfish stays further above the eggs and guards all the females and eggs in his territory.

Learn about the redtoothed triggerfish.





Not all animals would die for their babies but the octopus would.

Female octopi care and guard for their eggs all the time, hardly leaving or eating during this period. It takes two to 10 months for the eggs to hatch, although one octopus was although one octopus was observed guarding her eggs for over four years.

Shortly after the eggs are hatched, the female octopus usually dies from starvation and exhaustion. The tiny baby octopi are left to fend for themselves.

Learn about how smart octopus is.


Join the S.E.A.A. Super Mum Activity Trail

You’ll learn about amazing abilities of aquatic animal mothers in caring for their young on the activity trail during the Super Mum programme from 7 May to 12 June 2016.

Other activities at the Aquarium during the programme include:

  • Arts and crafts for kids: Make a fishy-themed Mother’s Day card
  • Meet our new baby Shark Ray, among the world’s first to be born and raised under human care


S.E.A. Aquarium suoer mum trail

MasterCard promotion: 2 S.E.A. Aquarium One-Day Adult Passes at S$54 (U.P S$64)

Online Exclusive - S.E.A. Aquarium at S$25

Facebook Comments
Tags from the story