With a head like a horse, a tail like a monkey, a pouch like a kangaroo, eyes resembling a chameleon's and their camouflaging qualities, seahorses were once thought to be mythical and mysterious creatures. Long ago, people thought they were either insects or shellfish. Actually, a seahorse is quite a normal fish and there are about 35 different species of seahorses spread all over the world. Seahorses belong to the family of Syngnathidae. This word is a combination of two Greek words, Syn- meaning fused and Gnathus- which means jaws. Hippcampus is the genus that they belong to. Hippos mean horse and campus means sea-monster in Greek.
What do they look like?
Seahorses don't have scales but armoured plates all over their body instead. They come in a variation of colours, orange, red, yellow, green, brown and even grey in one of the two patterns: zebra stripes and spots. Some species that live around sea mosses can even grow feather-like appendages that resemble pieces of moss and sea weed as camouflage.
Boy or girl?
The sex of a seahorse is easy to detect: male seahorses have a pouch below the chest area. Seahorses beat their dorsal fins back and forth to propel themselves through the water in an upright position. The pectoral fins are used to control steering and turning.
Seahorse heights are measured from the tip of the tail to the top of the coronet, or "crown" and sizes vary with species, ranging from the large Australian big-bellied seahorse (H. abdominalis, which can surpass 30 cm in height) to the tiny pygmy seahorse (H. denise, less than 2 cm) found in the Flores Sea off the coast of Indonesia.
How long do seahorses live?
Seahorses reach sexual maturity at the age of 6 months. This means that by six months, they are ready to mate and have babies of their own. Seahorses live from 1 to 5 years.
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