Saturday 22 July 2023




All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


                                                        White's seahorse

Of all the fishes in the sea,

Seahorses are the ones for me.

There are around 50 species of this quaint little creature, ranging in size from the diminutive pygmy seahorse at 1.5 cm to the pot-bellied seahorse, which can reach 35 cm. In captivity, the smallest individuals live for about one year, while some of their bigger cousins can live for as long as five years. All of them exhibit a unique equine head and neck profile and prehensile tail. Seahorses have a horn or spine on the head, called a coronet, particular in appearance to each species.  It is believed that Hippocampus has existed for at least 20 million years.

                                                    Pygmy seahorses

Seahorses are unusual in that they swim vertically. At the beginning of the breeding season, which lasts six months, male and female seahorses form pairs. After several days’ courtship, involving quivering and swimming together, tails entwined, the female deposits her eggs in the male’s pouch so that he can fertilise them. He then incubates them for 9 to 45 days. When they are fully developed they are released into the sea, to fend for themselves. The babies cling together in small groups, using their tails. A very small percentage of the thousands that are ‘born’ each year survive.

Seahorses lack a stomach and have just a digestive tract, so must eat all day to survive. They are omnivorous, using their snouts to suck in plankton, tiny crustaceans and other small animals. Some seahorses prefer to eat live food, even consuming their own young, while others like it dead. They are exceptionally poor swimmers and cannot pursue their prey, so anchor themselves to plants or other stationary objects by their tails. They rely on camouflage to protect themselves from predators and use it to hide among plants to ambush their prey. Their eyes move independently of each other, much like a chamaeleon.

 The slowest-swimming fish in the world is the dwarf seahorse, which manages a distance of 1.5 m an hour.

On 21st July, the BBC reported that Australian scientists from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science had released hundreds of the endangered White’s seahorses into Sydney Harbour. However, when I looked for more information I discovered that this release had been effected more than two months ago, in May! Wake up, BBC!

The 380 little seahorses have all been tagged in an effort to track their progress.


  1. 1.5m per hour. That's slower than a snail! I love seahorses but didn't know there was such a variety of them. I've seen a few in the Aquarium in Fremantle WA. Leafy Sea Dragons too which are similar.

    1. They're my favourite fish. I've always been fascinated by them.

  2. The seahorses seem make-believe! The equine head and neck profile, prehensile tail and horn on the head called a coronet, are very like a bejewelled brooch.

  3. What fascinating creatures they are. I love watching them moving around in a large aquarium.

  4. I love the little seahorses, they are so cute ! I didn't know that for once the male has to carry the future babies !

  5. It's unusual for the male of any species to take the major responsibility, but wonderful when it happens.

  6. Hi Janice - I was fascinated to see they'd released some into Sydney Harbour ... the marine organisations are protecting our sea-grasses here in Eastbourne as we have a colony - they're delightful - cheers Hilary

  7. That is so good to hear, Hilary. I know there's a colony in the Thames estuary, Here's what I found from bing:

    There are two species of seahorses around the British coastline, the Spiny Seahorse (Hippocampus Guttulatus) and the Short Snouted Seahorse (Hippocampus Hippocampus). Both British Seahorses can be found from the Shetland Isles mainly down the west coast of the UK (and all around Ireland) and along the south coast of England; we also have sightings of Seahorses on the east coast and a few years ago they were found in the North Sea and across the Channel in France.

  8. I find seahorses absolutely fascinating creatures! xxx

  9. They are fascinating, like little horses for mermaids to ride! x x x


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