Tikiri Animal Knowledge Series
Our next animal in the limelight is the elegant seahorse!
Not only are seahorses very pretty they are also very quirky and behave differently to other types of fish. For a start they are really poor swimmers! They are the slowest moving of all types of fish because they only have a tiny fin in the middle of their back to move forwards with. They move at a snails pace of around 1.5m per minute.
What else can we learn about these strange but intriguing sea creatures?
Seahorse Fun Facts
1. The latin name for seahorse is 'Hippocampus' which translates to Horse Caterpillar. You can really see that when you look at a photo of one - apart from their prominent snout they look rather like a spiny caterpillar.
2. There are over 45 different types of seahorse and they range in size from 1.3cm to 35cm long.
3. Rather like their larger 4 legged hairy cousins - seahorses have excellent eyesight. Their eyes are set on the sides of their head which means they can look to the front and back at the same time. This is particularly useful as they use their eyesight to find food.
4. Talking of food - seahorses suck their food up through their snout like a vacuum. They eat small crustaceans like shrimp and eat a staggering 30-50 times a day! Because they can't swim fast to catch prey they camouflage themselves staying very still until food swims past and then they suck it up before swallowing it whole!
5. When a male and a female seahorse mate they have a very elaborate display where they change colour and often circle around objects. This can last hours and they can bond in this way for months at a time.
6. The seahorse is the only creature where the male carries the babies (called fry). The female still produces the eggs but then transfers them to male who fertilises them and carriers them in his pouch which is called a brood pouch. He does this from anything between 2-4 weeks and giving birth can take as long as 12 hours!
7. A seahorse body has a skeleton like humans which is fused together with a flesh like covering. They don't have scales like other fish.
8. Tear jerker alert - seahorses are under threat for a couple of reasons: The Chinese medicine trade and they are also sadly sold as souvenirs along with shells and starfish. Historically humans have killed them faster than they can reproduce but there is now more protection in place for them to prevent this.
9. The main predators of the seahorse are crabs and other types of larger fish however they are not the easiest to eat and digest due to their bony skeleton! They are therefore not very appetising to many predators!
10. Seahorses have very strong tails and are able to anchor themselves with them. Not only do they wrap them to vegetation so they can rest they also wrap themselves to their mates so they don't loose each other! They have also been known to hitch hike with their tails by attaching themselves to moving things to enable them to move a bit quicker.
We hope you enjoyed our 10 seahorse facts – keep an eye out for our next animal in the limelight in the next few weeks.
If your child would like their own miniature sea horse of their own you can buy our Seahorse bath toy and rattle.