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The Seahorse

Updated on September 14, 2018

Little Sweethearts of the Sea

Sea Horses are peaceful creatures who live in shallow temperate waters of the ocean. They are technically a fish, but have few characteristics in common with them. They are monogomous and mate for life. They swim upright, and the male gets to have the babies! There are several species, and they come in a variety of colors. Many species can camouflage themselves to match their environment. It is sometimes very hard to find seahorses in the wild. The best way to locate them is to know what kind of coral or vegetation they are likely to be camouflaged on and look for that.

These little fishies are in danger. They have been over fished, especially in recent years in Asian waters, due to the cultural beliefs of the area which use them in health products. The explosion of population and booming Chinese economy have contributed to an increased demand for dried seahorses. This is resulting in a vastly diminished seahorse population. While it is illegal to harvest seahorses, it does not seem that the law is being enforced.

Other dangers to the little darlings include claims that a Florida species was negatively affected by the BP Oil Spill and climate change resulting in diminishing sea grass, which is a primary habitat for Seahorses.

Photo: doug.deep

Pygmy Seahorse
Pygmy Seahorse

The Pygmy Seahorse

No Bigger than Your Thumbnail

These little angels live their entire lives on a single branch of Gorgonian Coral. You may have heard of the Gorgonian by another name: "Sea Fan". The Pygmy's camoflauge matches the color of the coral and the tiny polyps which form on the branches. The Pygmy have a really sweet morning greeting dance which they perform with their mate every day at dawn.

Delicate Creatures

Seahorses are not very strong swimmers. They can easily get caught up in a current during stormy seas and die of exhaustion trying to swim out.

The SeaHorse's Biggest Predator is Man

Pygmy Seahorse

Pygmy Seahorse
Pygmy Seahorse

Quick SeaHorse Fact

Twenty-five million seahorses a year are now being traded around the world - 64 percent more than in the mid-1990s


Sea Dragons - Reedies and Leafies

Reedy Sea Dragon
Reedy Sea Dragon

These beautiful creatures are so intriguing and lovely! The Reedy Sea Dragon pictured here and it's cousin the Leafy Sea Dragon are close relatives of the Sea Horse. They move and act in much the same way, but spend more time floating in the water than attached to their favorite coral or sea kelp. These guys' camouflage is that they mimick the behavior of plant life, which includes floating around loosely in the ocean. At first glance, especially with the leafy sea dragons, it is difficult to tell they are not plants!

Leafy Sea Dragon

Leafy Sea Dragon
Leafy Sea Dragon

Kids love Sea Horses!

A sea horse is a great way to teach them about the delicate ecosystem they live in, and about the environment in general.

Why should we protect them?

"Seahorses are incredibly cute,

for starters,"

"I think people are just naturally

drawn to them.

They're a symbol of clean oceans

and beaches and vacations

and happy times with family.''

Tierra Curry

conservation biologist

The Center for Biological Diversity

Male Seahorse giving birth - Wild!

Endangered all over the World - What we can do to save them

Red Seahorse
Red Seahorse

The most common ways seahorses are caught is from fishermen's by catch. This is the sea life not necessarily intended to catch, but that is saved and sold nonetheless. Fishermen who catch seahorses in their nets generally do so via a method called "bottom trawling". This not only brings up our endangered sea horses but other life important to their habitat such as the coral they live on and other vegetation which keeps them safe from predators.

Some breeds of Seahorses are protected through CITES (World Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

We can ask our government to stop allowing bottom trawling, especially in coastal areas where there are coral reefs. We can ask our government to enforce the ban on keeping seahorses, and we can encourage people not to buy the health products which have made them popular, especially in China. Additionally, if you or your friends want to purchase a sea horse for your aquarium, do not support pet shops who sell wild caught sea horses. These are cheaper, but they are also more likely to die because of the stress of taking them from their natural marine habitat. It is up to us, the consumer to discourage sellers from catching them in the wild to sell as aquarium pets.


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