Seahorse

Video highlights from Animal Encounters

Sea horses are found in shallow coastal waters in latitudes from about 52° N to 45° S. Their habitats include coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds, and estuaries.

Sea horse
Scientific classification: Family: Syngnathidae

Facts:

•     Sea horses are found in shallow coastal waters in latitudes from about 52° N to 45° S. Their habitats include coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds, and estuaries.

•    When swimming they maintain a vertical position and propel themselves forward using a soft-rayed dorsal fin. They use pectoral fins located on the side of the head to maneuver. Some scientists contend that this upright swimming posture evolved shortly after the expansion of sea grasses in the western Pacific roughly 25 million years ago. These plants provided sea horses with useful hiding places to avoid enemies and to capture unsuspecting prey. Ancestors of the sea horse evolved to maximize the opportunities offered by this new habitat.

•    The reproductive behaviour of sea horses is notable in that the male carries the fertilized eggs. After an elaborate courtship, the female uses an ovipositor (egg duct) to place her eggs into a brood pouch located at the base of the male's tail where the eggs are later fertilized. Depending on the species, the eggs remain in the pouch between 10 days and 6 weeks.

•    A seahorse's large swim bladder holds air and enables the fish to stay at a certain depth. A seahorse swims weakly, using its dorsal fin (back fin). It can move this fin back and forth 35 times a second.

Discuss this article

Newsletter

Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
Submit