Perhaps one of their most distinctive traits, the Syngnathidae family (which includes both seahorses and their cousins, pipefishes and seadragons) stands remarkably unique in that it’s the males that carry the burden of pregnancy, not the females. (Watch "The Freaky Fish: Pregnant Males."). And these daring and darling animals are symbols of love eternal and lifetime commitment. We must take action, and start today. Due to their unique anatomical shape and lack of scales, many people may not consider seahorses ‘fish’ at first, but they are indeed! This one little fin can beat back and forth up to 50 times a second, but the size of the fin keeps it from making much progress when it comes down to distance traveled. Additionally, this aspect of their anatomy also makes them skilled hitchhikers. Ocean Conservancy is a 501(c)3 – Tax ID #23-7245152 – Donations are 100% tax-deductible as allowed by law. Find your kindred species now! But it all depends on us. Males carry the unborn young – a phenomenon that is unique in the animal kingdom. The shape of their heads also helps them move through the water almost silently; when you combine that with their ability to camouflage into their surroundings thanks to helpful chromatophores within their skin cells, it’s clear that seahorses make apt hunters, proven by a predatory kill rate of around 90%. Seahorses have bony plates to protect them against predators, a horse-like snout for sneaking up on small crustaceans, and a tail that allows them to cling on to corals, seagrasses, and other objects. In contrast to most other fish, seahorses are monogamous and some species mate for life. In contrast to most other fish, seahorses are monogamous and some species mate for life. Hey, if you’re going to have a hard time swimming, might as well be super stealthy and efficient to make up for it! Their tough, bony makeup makes them pretty tough for other fish to digest, illustrating the reason for their lack of many natural predators. The size in inches of the world’s smallest seahorse, Satomi’s pygmy seahorse. In contrast to most animals in the land or water, another unique characteristic of the seahorse that they mate for life. There are 40 known seahorse species, which vary in size and appearance. Other than crustaceans like crabs who can pluck them up with their sharp pincers, humans are likely one of the more significant threats to the species, historically harvesting the animals faster than they’re able to reproduce. Seahorse couples are essentially serial monogamists, sticking with one partner for long periods of time. There is hope, however, and it comes in the form of our own actions and determined resolve to change the future of marine wildlife all over the globe. Thanks to Samm Newman Hernandez, who asked about seahorses—their life spans, sizes, and how they mate—Weird Animal Question of the Week learned a lot about these fantastic fish. After all, who doesn't like animals that dance every morning? That tail, says George Burgess of the Florida Museum of Natural History, is prehensile, anchoring them to things like blades of sea grass with a grip Burgess compares to a baby grasping an adult’s finger. Read about actress Alice Eve's connection to seahorses here! Sorry, but we failed to add you to the list. Ranging in length from more than a foot to under one inch, there are more than 40 known species of these ‘horses of the sea’ recorded by scientists to date. Thanks to Brian Skerry for providing the seahorse photo. They are the slowest-moving of all fish species because of an impeccably tiny fin in the middle of their backs being the only way to propel themselves. In Florida, where lined seahorses live around the peninsula, Burgess says, “I've seen some of the most beautiful beds disappearing, along with the fauna that lives in them.”. As little as five to as many as 1,000 juvenile seahorses, often called ‘frys’ in the fish world, can be born to the world in a single birthing session. Justin Hofman, the photographer of this impactful photo taken in Indonesia, was noted in USA Today to have said that he wishes the picture ‘didn’t exist.’. “The male and female seahorse come together repeatedly every morning to dance together” to reinforce their pair bond, says Amanda Vincent, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia and founder of the conservation group Project Seahorse. Seahorses are in the same family as pipefish, and both have a “male-bears-the-young reproductive strategy,” Burgess says. If you’re lucky enough to see a wild seahorse, reporting sightings to iSeahorse.org helps scientists keep track of these magical fish. Ocean Conservancy, International Coastal Cleanup, Ocean Action Network, Trash Free Seas, Trash Free Seas Alliance and Rippl are registered trademarks of Ocean Conservancy. Almost 90% of the share a monogamous bond that means male and female together form a pair bond. Every morning, seahorse couples engage in ritualistic dances to greet each other, moving through intricate, rhythmic sequences of twists and twirls for minutes to hours on end. Even with small pectoral fins that assist in steering, seahorses are sadly known to be so delicate that they can become fatally exhausted when waters get rough during storms. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Well, not just any fish. Vincent describes the female's ovipositor, “a penis-equivalent protrusion from the bottom of her torso,” as an “ingenious packing device.” Through it, she transfers her pear-shaped eggs into the male’s brood pouch.

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