This Thing Called Love: Meet 5 Monogamous Sea Creatures of the Gulf

Mating Seahorses. Photo Credit: Don McLeish

There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but a faithful few choose long-term love over playing the reef. While monogamy in fish is rare, here are five marine locals coupling up in the Gulf of Mexico.

1. Seahorse 

These tiny twosomes dance to the beat of their own drum. Greeting each other with nose-to-nose caresses, they sway and circle one another with a seductive slow dance. They even change colors to communicate affection and emotion.

Once the dance is done, the two starry-eyed seahorses come together with their touching snouts and tummies creating a perfect heart shape between them.

They remain bonded and loyal to one another for the duration of the mating season.

2. French Angelfish

No one does love quite like the French, even underwater. The monogamous sweethearts form pair bonds that can last throughout their lives. Always presenting an unwavering united front, these lovers are rarely seen alone.

French Angelfish. Photo Credit: Reefs.com

They defend their territory and their bond from neighboring pairs that threaten to break up the family, till death do them part. Once a bond is made, the couple lives, travels, and hunts together.

3. Hawksbill Sea Turtle

This critically endangered turtle begins life with a heart-shaped shell that elongates as it matures.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle. Photo Credit: David Doubilet

Each female turtle mates with only one male, and the two are monogamous throughout the breeding season.

The loyal lady sticks with her chosen love regardless of access to better quality mating options. (Editor’s Note: 30A recently adopted an endangered hawksbill turtle in the Seychelles Islands.  Her name is “Chelle,” and we will be able to follow her travels through a radio antenna)

4. Butterfly Fish

Dainty duos that are small, but mighty in love. Getting their name from the eyespots on their flanks resembling butterflies, they love hard, mate for life, and stake claim to a piece of reef real estate.

Butterfly Fish: Credit – NOAA

And if they do become separated, they swim upward in hopes of getting a better view and finding their lost love.

5. Mantis Shrimp

Though these guys have a reputation for carrying quite the punch and flashing their vibrant colors, rough city life is not for them. Once they find the shrimp of their dreams, the mantis shrimp couple tires of the social scene.

Mantis Shrimp. Photo Credit: Edy Setyawan

The shrewd shrimp pairs have decided the crowded reefs are full of predators and not safe for the survival of the family.

So the long-term lovers move to the suburbs just outside the reef to raise their shrimpy shrimp danger-free.

Even under the sea, love puts our heads in the clouds. And as the song goes, we just can’t handle it…this crazy little thing called love.

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CHRISTY (CHICK) HUGHES is a freelance writer and a respiratory therapist living in South Walton. She and her husband moved to the beach in 2000.  One sunset…and the couple never looked back. Find her at her blog chickhughes.com.


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