The Seahorse ranks as one of the most unusual fish species in the ocean. Yes, you read that right. The resemblance to horses is arguably a remarkable coincidence. No doubt, Nature loves to keep us guessing.
Currently, 54 species of Seahorse exist. There is also a rather common misconception about the mating habits of this unique genus. Many believe they mate for life which is not true. Yet they do practice extremely long courtship rituals which are most unusual among fish. These rituals may last for as long as several days. That’s a lot of courting, considering their short lifespan.
Seahorse Physical Description
The different kinds of Seahorse differ greatly in size. The smallest averages approximately 0.6 in (1.5 cm) in length while the largest may be as much as 14 in (35.5 cm) long.
Though they are bony fish, the Seahorse does not have scales. Their skin is quite thin and spread over a series of bony plates. They swim upright with the help of the dorsal fins and a tail which is prehensile. Maneuvering is possible with the small pectoral fins which are on each side of the head.
The Seahorse is incredibly skilled at camouflage. They can both change color and grow (and retract) spiny appendages at will! This allows them to blend in with numerous environments.
Seahorse Habitat and Ecology
The various types of seahorse live in both temperate and tropical oceans around the world. They prefer to inhabit highly sheltered areas and hence are most commonly found in areas of seagrass, coral reefs, estuaries, or mangrove forests.
Also, their diet consists primarily of tiny crustaceans. The Seahorse is typically a rather patient ambush predator and commonly feeds 30-50 times per day. They don’t horse around when it comes to eating.
Their breeding habits are quite remarkable, as well. After mating, the female deposits the eggs in a pouch on the body of the male. He then carries them until they hatch.
Their lifespan averages 1-4 years.