Seahorse is the title given to 54 species of marine fish in the genus Hippocampus. "Hippocampus" comes from the Ancient Greek hippos meaning "horse" and kampos meaning "sea monster"Contents [hide]
Seahorses are mainly found in shallow tropical and temperate waters throughout the world, and prefer to live in sheltered areas such as seagrass beds, estuaries, coral reefs, or mangroves. In Pacific waters from North America to South America there are approximately four species. In the Atlantic, the H. erectus ranges from Nova Scotia to Uruguay. H. zosterae, known as the dwarf seahorse, is found in the Bahamas.
Colonies have been found in European waters such as the Thames Estuary.
Three species live in the Mediterranean Sea: H. guttulatus (the long-snouted seahorse), H. hippocampus (the short-snouted seahorse) and H. fuscus (the sea pony). These species form territories; males stay within 1 square meter (11 sq ft) of their habitat while females range about one hundred times that.
Spiny seahorse H. histrix from East Timor holding on to soft coral with its prehensile tail
Seahorses range in size from 0.6 to 14 in (1.5 to 35.5 cm). They are named for their equine appearance. Although they are bony fish, they do not have scales but rather thin skin stretched over a series of bony plates, which are arranged in rings throughout their body. Each species has a distinct number of rings. Seahorses swim upright, another characteristic that is not shared by their close pipefish relatives, who swim horizontally. Razorfish are the only other fish that swim vertically like a seahorse. Unusual among fish, seahorses have a flexible, well-defined neck. They also sport a coronet on the head, which is distinct for each individual.
According to Guinness World Records 2009, H. zosterae (the dwarf seahorse) is the slowest moving fish, with a top speed of about 5 feet (150 cm) per hour. They swim very poorly, rapidly fluttering a dorsal fin and using pectoral fins (located behind their eyes) to steer. Seahorses have no caudal fin. Since they are poor swimmers, they are most likely to be found resting with their prehensile tails wound around a stationary object. They have long snouts, which they use to suck up food, and eyes that can move independently of each other (like a chameleon).
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