If you’ve visited our Ocean Zone exhibit lately, maybe you’ve seen our adorable new additions- seahorses! We have 3 lined seahorses on display in the Ocean Zone exhibit. They are captive-bred, which means they were raised by experienced breeders instead of caught in the wild- always a better choice when purchasing an animal. Lined seahorses are found in a range that stretches from the oceans on our east coast all the way down to South America. The seahorses that live in the museum are young and will reach about 6 inches by the time they are fully grown. While they look quite different from the other finned animals in our tanks, they are actually a species, or type, of fish. There are about 40 species of seahorses.
Seahorses are not good swimmers, so their bodies have adapted in a few ways to help them survive. Their long, prehensile tail grabs on to plants or rocks in the ocean, and the color of their bodies help them camouflage (blend into their surroundings). In the wild they eat tiny shrimp, crustaceans, and other small ocean critters. Here at the Museum we feed them mysis shrimp. Their fused jaws cannot open or close- no yawning for seahorses!- so they catch their food by sucking in, kind of like when you use a straw to drink! Check out this video that shows seahorses catching and eating their food:
Another fun fact about seahorses is that male seahorses give birth! The female seahorses places eggs in a pouch on the male’s stomach. The pouch is sealed up and the male protects the eggs and keeps them healthy and happy. About 3 weeks later, the seahorse dad is ready to give birth! He squeezes the baby seahorses out- up to 2,000 at a time! The baby seahorses look like tiny little copies of their parents. Here’s a video that shows some baby seahorses being born:
Unfortunately, the number of seahorses in some parts of the ocean is declining. Sometimes seahorses are caught to sell as pets, to make medicine, and even sold as souvenirs. Pollution in our oceans is also affecting their numbers. You can help by not purchasing dried seahorses or wild-caught ones. Practice “reduce, recycle, reuse” since emissions from cars and factories harms the ocean too. We love seahorses and we want them living long healthy lives in their ocean homes.
Do you have any questions about seahorses? Ask them in the comments. Ocean Zone runs in our changing gallery through January 7th, 2018.