The Mysteries of the “Seahorse”
by: Davis Yancy Clegg
Seahorses have a horse-like head and a grasping tail. There are no scales present. Instead, they are protected by bony plates. These little guys are considered to be a bony fish because of the strong external plates that protect them from attack. The plates are arranged in a series or “rings.” They don’t have very much swimming power. They lack a caudal (tail) fin. This leaves them on the bottom of the chain when it comes to evasive ability. When you’re talking about animal mating habits, you’ll often find them to be somewhat lacking in morality. Some animals kill their mates. Some have multiple partners. Well, the Sea Horse has a little redemption for our friends of the deep. Most species of seahorses mate for life. After dawn each day, the female swims to the male, and they both change color and perform a special dance, which lasts for about 10 minutes. They separate for the rest of the day, and repeat their dance the next morning. Unlike most every other fish in the ocean, the Seahorse is monogamous. It’s also a noteworthy fact that they one of the only species on the entire planet which the male bears the unborn young. The male sea horse has this sort of brood pouch on his front side. The female will come by and place her eggs into his pouch. The male then fertilizes the female’s eggs inside his pouch until the eggs hatch. If you want to get a glimpse of these guys, you’ll need to find yourself in tropical waters. They hang out in the shallows. Sea Horses range anywhere from 6-14 inches, upright.
The little sea horses are upright swimmers. Does that sound like an efficient setup to you? Though, they do manage to get around. They just have to be careful as they can die from exhaustion The are propelled by a small fin on their back that can flutter up to 35 times per second! There are also 2 even smaller fins that help with changing and maintaining direction. The diet of the sea horse consists of plankton, small crustaceans, and brine shrimp. In fact, a sea horse can consume over 3000 brine shrimp per day! The sea horse will use its prehensile tail to stick to tall sea grasses and coral. Then, he goes to using that snout that helped him get his name. Now, he sucks the plankton and small crustaceans as they aimlessly float by.
One last very unique trait which these creatures exhibit has to do with their vision. Basically, the sea horse can look at different places with either eye. For example, they can see both behind and in front of him simultaneously. This adaptation was to give a little help in the hunting department. How great would that be? If you find yourself in tropical waters like estuaries, kelp forests, or an environment that is rich in seagrass, then you may run into one of our friends!
You may not see any seahorses when taking one of our cruises, but there is plenty of amazing nature to admire. Join us on our Cumberland Island Tours. (check it out….)