The seahorse is famous for its amazing equine shape and for being one of the few animals that have only one partner for life. It is also famous because, unlike other species, it is one of the few in which the male incubates the eggs.
Although it may seem unbelievable due to their appearance and size, seahorses are carnivores and feed on other marine species. Their size ranges from just over half an inch to almost 14 inches and their life expectancy is 5 years.
It should be noted that these unique animals can be found in tropical and temperate waters around the world—the only prerequisite for their survival is the brown seaweed that allows them to camouflage themselves and go unnoticed, thus avoiding the jaws of their predators. Moreover, seahorses are not known for being very fast or for their resistance, which is why they prefer to stay in waters of low and calm currents that aren’t overly demanding, since they could die of fatigue if they had to swim against the current.
Another interesting fact about seahorses is their propulsion style, based on the displacement of their dorsal fin whose speed can reach 35 movements per second. This does not greatly influence the speed of their swimming, however. Their striking prehensile tail serves to anchor them to objects on the seafloor (coral, seaweed and rocks).
Although they are charming animals, this characteristic is also one of their main problems—due to their attractive qualities, they are one of the marine animals that is most sought after as a pet, which has led to them being sold indiscriminately. Another threat to seahorses is the Asian belief that they have curative properties against impotence and urinary incontinence, among other conditions.
As for the seahorse's diet, is based mainly on plankton, small microorganisms and crustaceans, all of which are found in abundance in the Peruvian sea. Due to its tiny size and lack of grinding teeth, this species must feed on very small particles that can fit into its tiny snout. They must also feed frequently since they lack a digestive system, meaning that their nutrition is not cumulative. Because of this last characteristic, seahorses spend most of their time looking for and eating food.
Another characteristic feature of the seahorses is the way they reproduce—as mentioned above, the males are the ones who incubate the eggs until they hatch. However, this starts in a previous step—when females and males meet, they begin to woo each other with long and complex rituals that are very similar to what we humans would call choreographies.
This can either succeed and lead to mating as the last step of the ritual, or failure, which will force both to continue in their search for a partner. If the male is chosen, the female will deposit her eggs in him, who will use the pouch he has on his body—similar to that of a kangaroo—to look after them for two weeks. During this time, the body size of a seahorse can increase, not only because of the incubation, but also in order to impose respect from potential predators.
This beautiful species can hold hundreds of eggs during the two weeks from mating to hatching. Finally, it should be noted that an important element in the speed with which they develop and hatch is closely linked to the temperature of the water in which they live.