Creature Feature: Seahorse

SeahorseAny mom can attest that growing a baby for 9 long months can be hard work!  Though the dads out there might be inclined to agree, there is one dad in the animal kingdom who knows for sure! Meet the seahorse or Hippocampus!

One of MSI’s fabulous rock star instructors, Jodi is a big fan of the seahorse.  Jodi loves a good fairytale romance, so one reason she loves these fish is that they mate for life and share the work in raising babies. Unlike nearly every other animal in the world, male seahorses are the ones that carry the eggs until they hatch.

In order for them to do this, the males are born with a brood pouch. A brood pouch is a special pocket that some fish, frogs, and invertebrate have to protect the eggs. The female seahorse will place her eggs into the pouch, and then the male internally fertilizes the eggs and carries them in the pouch until they hatch.  SuperDad!

“Seahorse” is the common name for 35 different species that live in tropical and temperate shallow waters throughout the world.  The unique shape of seahorse allows them to use their prehensile tail and hang out around sea grasses and coral but limits their mobility. Prehensile means a body part that is great for grasping. When they do move around, they flap fins located on their back about 35-50 times per second.  Because of their unique way of moving, seahorses have to avoid strong currents or else they can die of exhaustion.  Better hang on tight!

Most people can recognize the seahorse by its long, toothless snout.  Seahorses use this snout like a vacuum, “hoovering” plankton and small crustaceans. They can consume over 3000 pieces of food per day. That is a pretty tremendous feat, seeing as how their digestive systems lack a stomach!  Check out this video to learn more about seahorses.

Reference:

Edited by KC O’Shea

Photography by Hayley Usedom

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/sea-horse/

http://www.theseahorsetrust.org/seahorse-facts.aspx

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