Seahorses have got to be one of the most adored sea creatures by both adults and children. Their unique physical appearance could be why seahorses are so popular, plus the fact that they share a resemblance with actual horses. In this fact file, we have created a roundup of 26 interesting facts about seahorses.
Yes! Seahorses are fish. Like fishes, they have gills through which they breathe, they live primarily in the water, and they possess a swimming bladder. However, their caudal fins are replaced by a long tail.
There are currently about 54 known species of seahorses found in different parts of the world. Scientists sometimes struggle with identifying the different species because members of the same species can have different appearances. However, new species are being still being discovered.
Seahorses have a very varied diet. They feed predominantly on smaller sea creatures such as the Mysis Shrimp. Seahorse fry consumes thousands of pieces of food per day, while an adult seahorse eats as many as 50 times a day.
Seahorses have a unique long thin snout that allows them to search for food in the nooks and crannies of the sea. The snout also serves as a suction pipe that is used to suck up food. When they find larger prey, seahorses can expand their snouts to accommodate it. They do not chew their food.
Seahorses have well-adapted eyesight that works independently on either side of their head. This unique eyesight adaptation allows them to look in any direction, which must be useful when hunting for food.
There are seahorse populations all over the world. They are found in all seas regardless of the climate. They can survive in various habitats from seagrass patches to muddy flats to coral reefs, generally in areas where they can hold on to something with their tails.
Seahorses are well known for their male pregnancies and monogamous relationships. During the mating season, the male seahorses perform a mating dance which can last for several hours. These dances can even include colour changes while circling each other, both tails entwining and singing to each other.
Seahorses have elaborate mating rituals, too. It’s thought that they will spend seven or eight hours dancing around to get the attention of a mate. Believe it or not, they will also change colours and looks during this time, too!
However, it’s all worth it, as believe it or not, seahorses mate for life. There are more species of animal out there which are monogamous than you might think!
If you thought the name seahorse was weird enough, their Latin name – Hippocampus – literally translates into ‘horse caterpillar’.
Seahorses are born fully formed and take about 45 days before they become independent, wandering the seas and hunting for their food.
Seahorse species vary in size from as large as a banana to as small as a watermelon seed. The smallest seahorse known today is the Satoi pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus satomiae) a native of Indonesia with an average length of 13.8mm. On the other hand, the largest seahorse is the Big Bellied seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis) a native of Australia measuring up to 35 cm.
A fry spends the first three weeks of their lives drifting in the ocean along with the plankton layer. While thousands of seahorse babies are born, only a few survive till adulthood. They have a survival rate of less than one in a thousand. Their low survival rate is a result of predators.
Seahorses have a unique prehensile tail that allows them to hold on to seagrass and other seaweed, preventing them from being swept away by the ocean current.
Seahorses aren’t the greatest swimmers of the ocean. Their dorsal fins beat at a rate of up to 70 times per second, while the pectoral fins located on either side of their heads helps with steering and keeping them stable.
Seahorses do not have the same skeleton as regular fishes, they have an exoskeleton. This means that they have a hard body made up of bony plates that connect under a fleshy covering. Seahorses are not scaly.
Seahorses are an endangered species and under threat globally. This is mostly due to the seahorse trade in different parts of the world that sees hundreds of millions of seahorses sold every year.
The traditional Chinese medicine trade takes more than 100 million seahorses from the seas every year. These seahorses are used for all kinds of medicines.
It’s actually rare than many predators will go for a seahorse as a light snack. Their shapes tend to be pretty awkward to munch down on, meaning they will likely look for meatier fish elsewhere.
Seahorses are fairly speedy for their size. It might not sound like much, but they are able to cover around 150cm per hour.
As mentioned, seahorses can change colour. That’s because they do so to match where they are swimming past. It’s a great defence mechanism, as well as a mating ritual standard.
You’ll normally find that seahorses will live for up to 3 years in the wild.
The UK and Ireland, in fact, are home to a couple of seahorse species just off the coast. You will find the short snouted seahorse as a particular staple of local waters.
Seahorses don’t just mate for life, they also like to swim in pairs, too. This is often for protection, as they can links tails together while they drift through the current.
While seahorses don’t tend to have many predators per se, their mortal enemy is the crab – which may well seek them out as snacks.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about seahorses that we’ve not mentioned? Share them here in the comments section below!