15 Fun Facts About Seahorses

Seahorses may be small but they are incredible; They mate for life, the males carry the young, and they are master camouflagers. 

We have put together a list of 15 amazing facts about seahorses for you to impress your friends with at your next trivia night.

1.Seahorses are fish not mammals. They were named due to their heads looking similar to that of a horse and were first discovered in 1810. Their scientific name is Hippocampus which comes from ancient Greek language and translated means horse sea monster.

2. Seahorses swim in a vertical position, another behavior that makes their resemblance to horses even stronger. It’s one of very few fish which swim in this way.

3. Seahorses are the slowest fish in the world but does this make them bad swimmers? Well they’d have no chance of out running a threat but if the current is strong and in their favor they are highly skilled at drifting through the ocean.

4. Seahorses get around using their dorsal fin to propel them forward, as hard as they work this tiny fin is what leads to their slow speed. They also have small pectoral fins which allow them to steer.

5. Seahorse’s tails aren’t just there to make them look extra cute, they are in fact a super useful tool for these weak swimmers. They use their tails to hold on to sea vegetation and coral to prevent them drifting with the current. Tails which can be used to wrap hold on to things are called a prehensile tail, and land dwelling creatures like monkeys and chameleons do the same thing.

6. When it comes to snacking, Seahorses love a seafood buffet of small crustaceans and fish larva. Seahorses have a relentless appetite and eat up to 50 times a day. What method is more effective for fast food than inhalation, that’s right seahorses use their nose like a straw to suck up their prey and consume them whole.

7. Seahorses aren’t without their predators and other fish such as rays and crayfish see them as a tasty treat. Not surprising the main risk to seahorse population is the destruction of their habitat of which humans massively contribute.

8. Sea horses can camouflage themselves to hide from predators and to help them catch prey. They can change color and move their eyes independently to survey the area around them. They can often be found in colors of orange, red, green, gray or yellow. They will also change color to match their partner during a dance as part of the mating ritual.

9. Seahorses also have distinctive features including spots, stripes and spiny peaks. These superficial features are a way of differentiating between species and usually match up with their habitat so they can blend in seamlessly.

10. Male seahorses carry the babies in a pouch and give birth to them. This is another unique characteristic of this fish which it is most famous for. The female seahorse will deposit her egg into the male’s pouch and let him do the rest of the work.

11. Romance isn’t dead in the world of seahorses, in fact they are a monogamous fish. Once mated they will check in with their partner everyday to see how they are doing and perform ritual morning mating dances until their offspring is born.

12. It takes around two weeks for seahorse eggs to mature into a baby, with a maximum of 45 days until baby seahorses are out in the wild. Once free, baby seahorses will be searching for one of up to 3000 pieces of food for the day.

13. Seahorses can live from one year up to five years depending on their species. They can breed multiple times during the mating season.

14. There are over 40 species of seahorses in all sizes and colors. The smallest species is the pygmy seahorse which is only half an inch/13mm long. On the other side of the spectrum the big-belly seahorse is the largest species, reaching up to 13 inches/35cm long. Other species include the spiny seahorse, and the common seahorse.

15. Seahorses can be found all over from tropical waters with mild temperatures to fresh water and polar seas. Their ideal habitats are coral reefs, seaweed and shallow waters, essentially anywhere with calm water and plenty of vegetation or coral for their swirling tails to grab onto.

Want to learn about octopuses too? Check out our blog: Octopuses: 20 Amazing Facts

Top tips for diving with seahorses respectfully

The best way to appreciate sea horses is in their natural environment, whilst being respectful of course. This means if you are lucky enough to spot this equestrian-esque sea creature you need to keep a safe distance away. As we now know seahorses are not the strongest swimmers so interfering with their swimming trajectory can really set them back. If you meet a confident sea horse who isn’t afraid of you, don’t be tempted to touch them. Whilst they aren’t known to be fragile fish they are small and even a delicate touch from a comparable giant human could damage them. 

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Where to spot seahorses

If you are keen to spot sea horses in the water the good news is they can be found all over the world, from the coast of the UK to the Mediterranean. In the Atlantic Ocean the island of Barbados is home to 3 different species of sea horse which can be found thriving at the Cement Factory dive site. If you love macro diving and are hoping to spot some pygmy seahorses then heading to Raja Ampat is a great location for the smallest of all the seahorse species. You can also find seahorses at Studland Bay in Dorset. Don’t let the cold waters put you off as this dive site is ranked as one of the top sites in the UK and home to rare species of seahorses.

Make sure you take your time when spotting seahorses, they are masters of camouflage and blend seamlessly with their environment. 

Keep your eyes peeled and your fins steady so you can slowly glide through water and spot these tiny sea creatures.