Seahorses (Hippocampus erectus, Hippocampus reidi) are rarely seen swimming around the reef and are more likely to be holding onto soft coral or a strand of algae or seagrass. This is because seahorses are not very good swimmers as their body is much larger than their fins. Because they are slow swimmers, they cannot chase its prey. Instead, they camouflage themselves and when the prey is close enough, they suck it in with their long snout.
The two seahorse species found in St. Maarten’s waters are named after their distinct features:
- the Lined Seahorse has dark lines that typically cover its body, while
- the Longsnout seahorse the Lined Seahorse has a long thick snout.
Coloring varies a lot, from black to brown, grey, yellow, orange and red, and changes depending on the seahorse’s diet, mood and surroundings.
These beautiful, slender creatures are absolutely fascinating. For example, did you known that their eyes can move independently of each other, meaning that seahorses can scan their surroundings quickly and easily?
Their reproductive biology is also very unique. Males, and not females, carry the eggs in a kangaroo-like pouch and give birth. When males are ready to mate, they inflate their pouch. Once the females have deposited their eggs in it, the pouch closes up until the embryos are developed. The pouch only reopens when the male gives birth.
Seahorses are also true romantics; they stay with the same mate throughout their lifetime. The bond of a paired male and female is strengthened each morning through special greeting dances.