Seahorses by Francisco Otero-Ferrer

We were visited by Francisco Otero-Ferrer, Ph.D. (Researcher, University Institute of Sustainable Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria).

Francisco is a  Researcher in Marine Habitats at the Institute of Sustainable Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems in Las Palmas (Spain). He obtained his Ph.D. in marine science (University of Las Palmas), studying the reproduction and ecology of seahorses.  He also participated in several European initiatives employing these fish as biological models to study”fathers-fetal relationship”. Meanwhile, he has long been involved, through research and professional activities, in multidisciplinary sectors (aquaculture, technical diving, and museums) in various countries, always related to environmental management and marine sciences.

On September 26th he opened the seahorses’ tank at Researchers’ Night Festival in Ahhaa Science Centre (AHHAA) with the lecture “Crazy horses”. Tank with seahorses was organized as a collaboration of TransGeno and AHHAA and is a part of a permanent exhibition. 

On Septemeber 27th Francisco gave a guest seminar “Seahorses: Unusual and strange parents” in SIME 2nd floor seminar room at 10.30 

Abstract: Seahorses, pipefishes and their exotic cousins the sea dragons, belong to a large group of species known as the Syngnathidae – the name referring to the fused jaws they all possess. Seahorses are widely distributed throughout tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world, but can be found as far north as Canada and even in the river Thames. Their unusual shape and behavior has led to them being overexploited commercially by traditional medicine, aquarium trade, and as ornamental curios, producing a global regression of wild populations.

On the other hand, their upright posture while swimming and their prehensile tail make people not think of them as fish. However, seahorses are indeed fishes and their reproductive biology is unique among vertebrate species. Most of the seahorse species are monogamous with paternal care refined to such a degree that the males actually become pregnant. With this particular reproductive behavior, seahorses can be one of the most promising models for studying the effects of pre- and post-conception nutritional changes in reared-marine fish species.


Seahorses tank and seminar were organized by the ERA Chair of Translational Genomics at the University of Tartu (European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 668989).