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Fun Facts About Seahorses

Equine heads, bony plates, and curly tails are just the beginning when it comes to fun facts about seahorses. These curious creatures – a favorite at any aquarium – are quaint oddballs of the marine world. Diminutive in size, they manage to live large, with perpetual eating, color changing, and lifelong mating.

Fun Facts About Seahorses

Found in shallow tropical and temperate waters, seahorses often disappear into their surroundings. With their prehensile tails, their upright bodies anchor to vegetation, holding firm against currents and other disturbances. Their preferred habitat includes seagrass beds, coral reefs, and mangroves. Sadly, it's rare to see a seahorse in the wild these days. The reason being: over fishing.

Endangered Since 2004

To go along with all the fun facts about seahorses is the very serious reality that these little creatures are endangered. Protected by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, (CITES) seahorses have come under threat from the pet and alternative-medicine trades.

As a result, only 35 species exist today. Though remarkably, a new species was just discovered in 2008: A pea-sized seahorse named Hippocampus satomiae. With this discovery and the efforts around the world to protect the seahorse, there's hope yet.

Casting Their Spell

Their unique appearance makes seahorses a clear favorite for any aquarium. The Monterey Bay Aquarium for instance has "one of the nation's largest collections of these charismatic animals." It takes but one look to be enchanted by their magic – a spell that's cast by their exterior, but what of their biology? That's where the seahorse truly stands apart.

A Few Fun Facts About Seahorses

As noted, the seahorse's biology is filled with wonder. Though it may not look it, the seahorse is actually a fish. A relative of pipefish, the seahorse is a vertebrate – don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Though it doesn't have the scales associated with fish, the seahorse does have a skeletal makeup, thanks to a fused jaw and bony plates.

Indeed, the seahorse is an animal made for trivia. Consider these facts:

  • The seahorse species ranges in size from .6 inches (smaller than a thumbnail) to little over one foot (14 inches).
  • They can rotate their eyes 360°, each independent of the other.
  • They have no teeth and no stomach.
  • When released, seahorse babies are fully formed, having grown inside their father's pouch.
  • Did You Know?

    The only species in the entire animal kingdom to do so, the male seahorse bears the young.

  • Voracious eaters, seahorses consume an average of 3000 plankton, brine shrimp, and other microscopic marine life each day. By the time a seahorse is two weeks old, its appetite is "adult."
  • Most seahorses use camouflage to blend in with their surroundings.
  • Because of their upright position, seahorses are not the best swimmers. As a result, they spend most of their time stationary, anchored to vegetation.
  • The seahorse is of the genus Hippocampus, which literally means "horse sea monster": hippos is "horse" and kampos is "sea monster" in Greek.

The Mythical Hippocamp(us)

What would the Ancient Greeks think of the seahorse? Likely, they'd find it as fascinating as the modern world does – especially given the fact that they had dubbed a mythological creature "Hippocamp." According to myth, this hybrid between a horse and fish pulled the chariot of the sea god Poseidon. The creature, said to have the front end of a horse and the hindquarter of a fish, also appeared in Phoenician and Etruscan mythology.

The Most Fascinating Fun Fact of All

Of course, the most fascinating, unique fact of all when it comes to the seahorse is that the males become pregnant, not the females. Born with pouches like a kangaroo's, male seahorses are perfectly designed to carry and protect seahorse eggs and hatchlings until they're ready to strike out on their own.

What you may not know however is that male seahorses spend most of their lives pregnant. Within days of releasing one brood, males become pregnant again within days. The fact that seahorses are monogamous helps in this regard, in that partners are never far from one another. In fact, did you know: When courting, the male and female seahorse will lock tails in the morning and evening for a short swim. Talk about romantic!