Five Fascinating Facts About Seahorses

1. A Group of Seahorses Is Called A Herd

According to National Geographic, there are about 36 known seahorse species found in a variety of ocean habitats all over the world. They generally prefer warmer, tropical environments and live together in small social groups called herds. Seahorses are monogamous during a breeding season and even “hold hands” with their mate by grasping each other’s tails! Unfortunately, seahorses are vulnerable to extinction due to human activities. Read on to learn more about these unique creatures!

 

2. Seahorses are the slowest swimming fish, but are very effective predators

Seahorses use the small fin on their back to propel themselves. Since this is their only method of locomotion, it does not make them very effective swimmers. In fact, many seahorses die of exhaustion when they are forced to swim for longer periods of time, such as getting caught in a strong current or being displaced by a storm. They would much rather prefer to use their prehensile tails to grip onto plants or coral and stay in place.

However, just because seahorses are not strong swimmers, does not mean they are unable to hunt effectively. A seahorse diet consists of plant-matter, small crustaceans like shrimp, as well as plankton and newborn fish. They eat by sucking food through their long snouts! Seahorses are also great at camouflage (see fact #5!) and often take their prey by surprise as they swim by. Their unique eyes are helpful for catching prey, as they are able to move them independently from one another.

3. Male Seahorses Give Birth and Care for the Young

Well, technically they don’t “give birth.” The female lays her eggs into the male seahorse’s pouch. A male pouch can carry upwards of 1,500 eggs! These eggs then develop for about 6 1/2 weeks and when it is time for them to be born, they pop out of the male pouch and are usually swept away in the ocean current. Infant seahorses have no parental care and generally begin feeding on plant-life as soon as they are hatched. Unfortunately, there is a high mortality rate among young seahorses with less than 1% surviving to adulthood. Because young seahorses do not need parental care, many males can immediately be impregnated again within a matter of hours after hatching a brood of young.

4. Seahorses eat (almost) non-stop

Seahorses do not have stomachs. They need to eat constantly in order to maintain nutrients in their bodies, as food passes through so quickly. An adult seahorse eats about 30 to 50 times per day; which is equivalent to about 3,000 brine shrimp in a day!

 

5. Seahorses Are Incredible at Camouflaging Themselves

Seahorses tend to stay stationary, so they have developed excellent camouflage in order to protect themselves from predators. Even though the seahorse does not have many predators due to a hard-to-penetrate exoskeleton, some type of fish and crabs still find them to be tasty snacks! Seahorses have the ability to change color in order to blend in with plants and coral which allows them to remain safely hidden. This ability is not only done for safety, but both sexes will change their color during courtship as well.

Image Credit: Dennis Polack, FishWise Professional. CC BY-NC-SA.