Common Name: Sea Horse
Range: Seahorse is found in shallow tropical and temperate waters throughout the world. You will come across the Pacific Seahorse during your dives in water of Costa Rica. The diving in Costa Rica can be very rewarding. Scuba diving at Coco Island, Drake Bay and at several other places will provide the opportunity to see seahorses.
Size: The average height of an adult sea horse range from .6 to 14 inches (1.6 – 35 cm) in size.
Seahorses also vary in color, including red, orange, yellows, greens and grey.
Weight: A seahorse is usually around 7 ounces to 1 pound in weight.
Diet: They apply their long nose to suck food like tiny fish, small shrimp and plankton. The food that they eat, goes into their digestive systems directly as they do not have any stomach and teeth. As the digestion procedure in seahorses is very quick, they require eating constantly to live. Usually, they eat Daphnia, Cyclops, mysids or larvae and small living things in the sea.
Average life span: The average lifespan of a seahorse in the wild is estimated to be 1 to 5 years.
Habitat: Seahorse is usually found in shallow, coastal tropical and temperate waters throughout the world including waters of Costa Rica. They have camouflaging qualities, because of that it is difficult to spot them.
Breeding/Reproduction: Seahorses have a single mate for the whole life. Each morning, they come together, dance, change their color, twist around with linked tails, and then separate for the rest of the day. During mating, they utter musical sounds.Male seahorses are equipped with a brood pouch on their ventral, or front-facing, side. When mating, the female deposits her eggs into his pouch, and the male fertilizes them internally. He carries the eggs in his pouch until they hatch, then releases fully formed, miniature seahorses into the water.
Seahorses belong to the family of Syngnathidae, and have more or less 35 species known today. They are about 2 to 30 centimeters long, can control each eye separately and have a cylindrical mouth for consuming planktons, tiny shrimps and fishes. Unlike other sea creatures that have scales, these bony fishes have skin that isn’t thick which expands over a consecution of bony plates aligned in rings all over their body. The coronet on their head is unique for every seahorse, more like a human’s fingerprints.
Seahorses swim slower compared to other fishes. In a straight-up position, they mobilize themselves forward with the help of their dorsal fin. The pectoral fins on the side of their heads are for their lateral movement. They lack caudal fins. In sea grasses or coral reefs one can usually find a seahorse for their lack of ability to swim fast with their tails wrapped around a still object.
These tiny creatures are mostly located in tropical, steady and shoal bodies of water across the globe. They camouflage around the sea grasses, mangroves and coral reefs into brown and grey. But in certain cases, seahorses change into bright colors.
When two of a kind found the mutual emotions, seahorse emotions that is, they pursuit each other for a handful of days. They shift colors then swim together and dance for about 8 long hours. During the “true courtship dance”, the male draw in water inside the egg pouch wherein it expands.
As the eggs reach the mature state, the two let go and while in a kissing position, they swim upwards. The male will be the one to incubate the eggs that was injected by the female into his brood organ. As she slims down, the male then fattens. The incubation process is maintained around two to four weeks’ time. He can give birth to one up to 2,000 baby seahorses called “fry”. Afterwards, the female comes back again for another batch of eggs.
Normal for any underwater creature, seahorses wouldn’t baby their young. These little ones can be eaten at a young age by bigger fishes or die due to the current of the water. Lack of food of course is one of the causes of death for them.
Seahorses are treated as aquarium animals and kept alive there as pets. They are also used in traditional medicines. Overfishing led them to be considered close to extinction such as the Pacific sea horse.