The outline of a seahorse's head is called the "coronet"
and is as unique to a seahorse as a thumbprint is to a human.
Seahorse species can be identified based on the shape and features
of the coronet. Coronets come in a wide variety of spines, knobs,
angles, and sizes.
like a horse
Their mouth lacks teeth and is actually a long tube designed
to suck up tiny organisms. Seahorses are ambush predators remaining
motionless until small animals swim within reach. With a flick
of its head, the seahorse sucks the prey out of the water.
Seahorses mostly use body language to communicate. Some are
known to make clicking noises when they feed. The head of some
seahorses make scientist think that the sound is produced when
a bony file scrapes against another bone.
Seahorses lack the caudal and pelvic fins seen on most fish.
Their pectoral and anal fins are tiny and used for steering
and stabilization. They use their two dorsal fins for propulsion
rather than the tail fin.
Having My Babies
males get pregnant! The mating act begins with a long and complicated
courtship dance. Intertwining their tails, the pair swims through
the sea grass. The female passes eggs to the male's pouch where
he fertilizes them. The eggs attach to the inside of the pouch.
The male provides extra oxygen for the developing babies during
incubation. He alters the pouch fluid to resemble seawater and
eases the babies' transition into the ocean.
Eyes Have It!
Seahorse eyes move independently of each other giving them a
full 360 degree picture of their surroundings. Seahorses are
always on the look out for predators or a tasty meal.
on by a Tail
Seahorses have muscular prehensile tails they use to anchor
themselves to objects or their partner.
Tall and Short of It
Seahorses range in size from 1 ½ inch to 1 foot.
The smallest species is the pygmy seahorse. Seahorses are measured
from the coronet to the tip of the outstretched tail. The jumbo
version is the foot-long Pacific seahorse.
seahorse of a different color
Seahorses exhibit a variety of colors from mottled brown to
bright orange to yellow. Seahorses can be difficult to identify
as they can change color to match their surroundings. They often
display startling color changes in unusual surroundings or in
Many species of seahorses have blotchy skin patterns that disrupt
the outline of their body. This can make it difficult for scientists
to find and identify seahorses. Seahorses rely on their cryptic
coloration to protect them from predators.