fascinating seahorse

Marine life spotlight: Fascinating seahorses

The love of the sea brings you close to the many wonderful creatures that live in it. One of the small creatures that will delight any diver is the seahorse. These aquatic dwellers have a compelling charm that will make you want to know them more.

The seahorse’s Latin name is Hippocampus which stands for “Horse Caterpillar”. This unique animal earned such a name because of its head that resembles a horse and caterpillar-like body. 

You might be surprised to know that the seahorse is a fish. Despite its appearance, it is actually a close relative of tuna and trout. Fascinating, isn’t it?

For centuries, the seahorse has captivated people. It is even mentioned in Greek mythology as the creature that pulls Poseidon’s chariot in Homer’s Iliad.

Seahorses reside in tropical and temperate coastal waters. They are native to UAE waters and enjoy protection in this region. We invite you to join our scuba diving Fujairah trips for a chance to see these incredible animals up close and personal. 

Interesting things about the seahorse

Range of sizes

Some seahorses are as small as pine nuts while others can be as big as bananas. The biggest species is the Hippocampus abdominalis, also known as the big-bellied seahorse. These large seahorses can measure more than a foot long and they are found in Southern Australia and New Zealand. The smallest seahorse is the Hippocampus satomiae or the Satomi’s pygmy seahorse. They are so tiny that they are merely half an inch long. These mini seahorses reside in the waters of Indonesia and Malaysia.

Underwater movement

Seahorses swim upright among plants such as seaweed by using their dorsal fins (back fins) to gradually propel themselves forward. They can adjust the volume of air in their swim bladders or body air pockets. Doing so, allows them to move up and down. They have small, spiny plates around their bodies up to their tails. To keep still in a certain place, seahorses use their flexible tails to hold on to objects such as seaweed or form of vegetation. 

Diet

Seahorses eat plankton, small fish, and tiny crustaceans such as Mysis Shrimp and copepods. Since they are slow swimmers, these small fish do not chase their prey. They ambush their prey by using their long thin snouts to reach food hidden behind nooks and crannies. Once they detect the presence of food, they suck it up just like a vacuum cleaner. They have flexible snouts that easily adjust when the prey is larger than their snouts. They disintegrate the food that they take in since they are not capable of chewing. 

Seahorses do not have a stomach like other fish. This prevents them from holding and digesting food. This is why they have to eat constantly to maintain their health. Would you believe that an adult seahorse eats 30 to 50 times a day? For such a tiny animal, it’s intriguing how it spends most of its time foraging through algae and gorging on whatever food they find

Courtship

When it comes to loyalty, seahorses are worthy of admiration. When they profess their love, seahorses pair for life. During courtship, the male and female go on an early date in the morning to perform an elaborate display of courtship. When the female meets up with the male in his territory, you’ll know that love is in the air because they change colors. The male goes around the female and then the tandem spins around an object. This courtship dance can extend up to an hour. After the passionate dance, the female returns to her territory.

Unique pregnancy 

Have you ever heard of a pregnant male? In the underwater world, this reversal of role exists. The female seahorse transfers her eggs to the male’s pouch which he fertilizes. The period of pregnancy ranges from 14 days to 4 weeks depending on the species. When it’s time to give birth, the male endures contractions that may last up to 12 hours. 

Seahorse encounter

Embark in a scuba diving UAE adventure for an opportunity to observe seahorses in their natural habitat. When you encounter these small creatures, remember to keep your hands to yourselves. Do not touch and chase seahorses to avoid stressing them. If you love underwater photography, seahorses can be great subjects as long as you do not use flash photography. Book a trip now to witness seahorses in action. 

 

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