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A young lined seahorse will be 5/8 inch long but within 10 months can reach an average size of 5 inches.
They can be found in shallow coastal regions ranging from Cape Cod, MA to Argentina where there is an abundance of vegetation to hold on to.
Seahorses are easily recognized by their horse-like head that lays perpendicular to the body and long, curling prehensile tail. A seahorse’s body is covered by a series of bony rings and boneless fins. Lined seahorses can vary in color, ranging from orange and red to brown and black; these colors can change to blend with their environment.
All seahorses are marine (found in the sea or ocean), living among eel grass, seaweed, mangrove roots, and corals along tropical and temperate shorelines around the world.
Seahorses feed on plankton, fish larvae, and small crustaceans such as copepods. They use a sucking action to draw food into their long, toothless, tube-like mouths. A seahorse has no stomach so it relies on its intestinal system to carry out the digestive process. Scientists have no theory for the absence of a stomach but a seahorse will have to eat almost constantly to survive.
Humans and larger fish species.
Mating between seahorses occurs in the late winter months. The female deposits eggs into a pouch located above the tail, on the front side, of the male. The fertilized eggs remain there for 40-50 days. Once hatched, the male “gives birth” by using muscular contractions to push the live young out into the water. The average number of seahorses born at one time is 100-450. A newborn seahorse is extremely tiny, and nearly transparent. Most species of seahorses are monogamous, and couples start each dawn with a greeting dance that can last up to ten minutes.
Threats and Conservation:
Seahorses face numerous threats on their survival. These threats include: habitat destruction, collection for souvenir and unregulated trade and collection for aquarium. Additionally, seahorses have been used for over 500 years in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of many ailments.
Q: How many species of seahorses are there in the ocean?
A: “Currently there are over 40 known seahorses with more being discovered every year! But only 13 or 14 species are being raised and presented in aquariums around the world.”
Q: What type of seahorse does Mystic have on exhibit?
A: "Right now at Mystic there is only one species on display, Hippocampus erectus, the striped or lined seahorse.”
Q: Where can I find a lined seahorse in the ocean?
A: “These guys are found from the Caribbean all the way up to the Northeast coast in the summertime but for the most part warm shallow, tropical water is where you will find them.”
Q: Do lined seahorses ever swim deeper into the ocean or are they always holding on to grass?
A: “A lot of these animals are hiding in the eel grass beds and they do the same thing in the wild and will hold on to just about anything but for the most part they prefer eel grass because that is where their food is and that is where they would like to stay.”
Q: Do male seahorses really give birth?
A: "Male seahorses really do carry the baby seahorses! First, you will see a courtship dance between the male and the female. During this dance, they will link tails and spiral and swim toward the surface. As they do this, the female will deposit her eggs into the male’s brood pouch, this is similar to a kangaroo or other marsupial pouch. Once inside the pouch, the eggs will be fertilized by the male and will remain in there until they have matured and are ready to swim out of the pouch. The gestation period of a seahorse is anywhere from two weeks to 40-50 days, depending on species; while brood size is anywhere from 150 to over a thousand."
Q: What do seahorses eat?
A: "In the ocean, they will eat small crustaceans and other smaller invertebrates in the water column or zooplankton. At the Aquarium, we feed them a mix of adult brine shrimp and mysid shrimp. The adult brine shrimp are live while the mysid shrimp comes frozen and we will thaw and net it into the exhibit. Then we watch them to make sure everyone is eating."
Q: What is your favorite part of working with seahorses?
A: "They are cute! Just watching them swim around and curl up onto each other is hilarious. They can’t swim very well so they will hold on to anything, including each other. Sometimes, you will see one seahorse with up to 8 others wrapped onto it. They are just fun to look at and watch."
Species of the Month Podcast: Seahorses!
Join MaryEllen and special podcast guest, Mystic Aquarium Fish & Invertebrate's Aquarist, Shane Curran's discussion on the wonderful world of seahorses.
MaryEllen wants to hear from you! Send questions, comments and suggestions for future podcast topics to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scientific Name: Hippocampus erectus
Size: African penguins range from 18 to 25 inches tall and weigh up to 11 pounds
Range/Distribution: The only penguin to breed in Africa, the African penguin ranges from Namibia to South Africa. Young penguins have been known to migrate north and west along the coastline and are found between Southern Angola, Namibia, and sometimes found off Gabon, Congo, and Mozambique, but generally reside in South Africa.
Appearance: The African penguin has a robust, torpedo-shaped body with black feathers on their back, flippers, and head while white feathers cover their front with the exception of horseshoe-shaped black stripe on the chest. Following the penguin’s first few molts a white stripe will develop around its cheek and throat. These birds have a bare patch above their eyes to assist with regulating their body temperature.
Habitat: When not hunting for food in the water, African penguins are found along rocky shores or brushy coastal areas.
Prey: African penguins feed on 25 species of fish, such as sardine and anchovy but also prey on squid and krill. A penguin may eat up to one pound of food or up to 14% of their weight.
Predators: African penguins face predation by gulls, feral cats and mongoose while nesting on land, while sharks and fur seals hunt African penguins in the water.
Life Span: The African penguin may live up to late 30 years in an aquarium or zoo but averages of 15-20 years are seen in the wild populations.
Mating Behaviors: There are no set breeding seasons for African penguins, however, most penguin pairs are monogamous and will remain together over several breeding years. The male will prepare a nest by digging a shallow burrow in sand or in brush using guano (penguin waste) and any materials nearby to complete the nest for the female to lay two eggs. Both the male and female share the nesting and chick duties, keeping the young safe from predators and warm temperatures. The chicks will hatch between 38 and 42 days and will leave the nest when they are between 60 to 130 days of age.
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