Scuba diving in Bali with seahorse.
Seahorse – 16 fun Facts
1. It doesn’t look like, but it is a fish!
Seahorse (genus Hippocampus), are intriguing little creatures. They are fish belonging to the Syngnathidae family, which also includes needlefish and pipefish as well.
2. Seahorse lives mainly in shallow tropical and temperate water around the world
3. There are 54 known species of hippocampus
Species vary in size and appearance.
The smallest is Denise hippocampus (Hippocampus Denise). In fact, its size ranges from 0.8 to 2 centimetres long.
Among the largest species is the pot-bellied seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis), with a length of up to 35 centimetres.
4. More fun facts about seahorse
Seahorses’ bodies are covered in tiny, hard, spiny plates, that are fused together. They breathe through gills, have a flexible neck, a snout and a prehensile tail that allows them to grab onto seagrass and other weeds and prevents them from being washed away by strong currents and waves. They do not have scales.
5. Seahorse is a poor swimmer
Pectoral fins located at either side of the head help with stability and steering. To move up and down, they adjust the volume of air in a tiny pocket inside their body, called ‘swim bladder’.
6. It is master of camouflage
In fact, this fish can be incredibly difficult to spot. Depending on the species, they are even able to develop long or short skin filaments or change their color thanks to special structures in their skin cells called chromatophores.
Seahorses are super-skilled ambush predators, and camouflage skills are also essential when hunting. They feed on small crustaceans and actually, they don’t chase their food. In fact, they wait, unnoticed, for prey to pass by.
7. They eat a lot!
Because seahorse doesn’t have teeth or stomachs, eating and digestion is quite the chore.
They have to eat constantly so they don’t starve. For instance, they eat 30 to 50 times and up to 3,000 or more brine shrimp every day.
8. Seahorse has excellent eyesight
This means that they can look back and forth at the same time, which is particularly helpful in finding their prey. When the prey comes within reach, seahorse sucks it through its bony snout by a quick movement of its head. Their snouts can expand if their prey is larger than they are. Because they don’t have teeth, they swallow their prey whole.
9. Seahorse is territorial
Usually, females have a territory of about 100 square metres, while males have a territory of about 0.5 square metres. Their territories overlap.
10. Many species of seahorse are monogamists, sticking with one partner for long periods of time or even for life
11. Courtship rituals
The female meets the male in his territory and as they get closer they change color. Male surrounds the female and the pair often spirals together around an object. This ritual can last up to an hour. Once over, the female returns to her territory.
12. Reproduction can be triggered by light, temperature and also by turbulence of the sea in the area.
After the elaborate dance, the male drops his seminal fluid, and the fertilisation occurs as the eggs enter the male’s brood pouch. Females pass their eggs with the help of a genital appendix, called an ovopositor, about three millimeters long, into the males’ ventral pouch. Both the entrance of the eggs in the pouch, as well as their fertilization, occur in an extraordinarily fast process (just 6 seconds). The number of eggs can vary from 50-150 for smaller species to 1,500 for larger ones.
In fact, male seahorse carries the eggs for ten days to six weeks, depending on the species and also the temperature of the seawater. After this period, the male gives birth to the young. This can be a long process with contractions lasting up to 12 hours.
13. Newborns are totally independent
Newborns look like a smaller version of their parents, about seven to eleven millimeters long. As soon as they are born they are on their own, completely independent.
They spend the first 2 or 3 weeks of their life slowly drifting in the plankton layer of the ocean, looking for something to hold on to.
14. Seahorse can live for 1 to 5 years
15. Seahorse need our help!
Humans are the greatest threat to the seahorse. Because they often live in shallow water near the coast, human activities such as pollution, fishing and development have threatened their numbers.
Seahorse, along with starfish and shells, is also targeted in souvenirs markets. They are caught in the sea and then left burned to death under the sun.
Unfortunately, because of all of these threats, some species of seahorse are vulnerable to extinction.
16. Scuba diving in Bali with seahorse
In Bali we have many different species of these fabulous animals. We can often spot seahorse all along the East Coast. From Tulamben to Amed and all the dive sites in between. As well in Padangbai. For example at Blue Lagoon and Jepun Wreck.
Be a responsible diver
Seahorses are an important part of the marine world, therefore saving them is imperative. In fact, you can make a difference by:
- master a perfect buoyancy to avoid touching anything underwater
- Do not touch coral and take any marine life
- Only dive with companies which have endorsed and adhere to the Code of Conduct
- refuse to buy seahorse souvenirs and wild-caught seahorse for aquarium
- support marine protected areas
- reduce ocean pollution
- always follow your dive guide instructions
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