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Romance on the Reef.

| Abby Seymour

Although we are a bit late, Valentine’s Day is all year round on the Great Barrier Reef! Love is in the air and days are filled with spending quality time with our loved ones, kind gestures, sweet messages on cards and thoughtful gifts. We aren’t the only ones celebrating though! Interestingly, marine animals are quite the romantics, capturing the hearts of their fellow sea creatures, (and I’m sure ours) as we look at some of the cutest underwater relationships:

  1. Dance of the Serenading Seahorse

Seahorses are well known for their unique courtship rituals and for their pregnancy role swaps. In some species the female deposits her eggs onto the male who then nurtures the embryo until it has full developed. During mating season, the waves turn into an underwater ballroom filled with serenades of love. The female and male seahorse circle each other, grasped in a nose-to-nose embrace, intertwining tails and gracefully performing a sensual dance. Once the dancing duo unites, they become monogamous and mate for life. They display physical contact by paired swimming and tailed holding, as well as show emotion by changing colours, making them well deserving of their reputation as the most romantic sea creature of all.



  1. Enchanting Hymns of Humpback Whales

Turns out those cheesy rom-coms weren’t wrong after all, the way to steal a heart is through an enchanting serenade. As if humpback whales were not majestic enough, they use a musical approach to capture their partners hearts. During breeding season, they carefully compose enticing hymns to win the females over. Their talents don’t stop there, the song is often accompanied by a charming dance where the male glides through the water and gracefully flips. Talk about a triple threat!


  1. Masterpieces by a Pufferfish Sculptor

If you thought you had a knack for art, I reckon you could learn a thing or two from the talented pufferfish! Not only are they masters of defense and can puff up into the shape of a balloon, they are connoisseurs of love too.  When mating season rolls around, male pufferfish channel their inner artists, making the sand their canvas. Males work hard to create the best and prettiest nest for their lady to lay their eggs in. Using their fins, they carefully sculpt intricate patterns in the sand, often in concentric patterned rings which slow down the water current, making it a more suitable place for the eggs. The patterns can be up to six feet wide, and the male often goes the extra mile to decorate the patterns with beautiful bits of shell. If that doesn’t impress the girls, I don’t know what will!


It is no doubt that the underwater world is filled with passionate and flirtatious animals, ready to impress their partners with extraordinary gestures. These heartwarming examples show that love does indeed exist across various species, exemplifying the beauty of everlasting love beneath the waves.


By Anshi Sood (December 2023 Internship)

About the Author

Abby Seymour

Abby Seymour

Marine Biologist
Abby has had a love of the ocean since day one. If she ever went missing as a child, you could guarantee to find her somewhere near fish, even if it was the fish counter in a supermarket! That passion continued throughout her life, becoming a diver at 15, a dive master at 19 and a dive instructor at 22.
Marine Discoveries Fishy Facts
Scorpion fish release up to 15,000 eggs at once
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