SeaShell News, 4-27-15, Seahorse, Shelling Sanibel.
Seahorse is the name given to 54 species of small marine fishes in the genus Hippocampus. “Hippocampus” comes from the Ancient Greek hippos meaning “horse” and kampos meaning “sea monster”. Having a head and neck suggestive of ahorse, seahorses also feature segmented bony armour, an upright posture and a curled prehensile tail.
Seahorses are mainly found in shallow tropical and temperate waters throughout the world, and live in sheltered areas such as seagrass beds, estuaries, coral reefs, or mangroves. Four species are found in Pacific waters from North America toSouth America. In the Atlantic, H. erectus ranges from Nova Scotia to Uruguay. H. zosterae, known as the dwarf seahorse, is found in the Bahamas.
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 m2 (11 sq ft) of habitat, while females range about one hundred times that.
Seahorses range in size from 1.5 to 35.5 cm (0.6 to 14.0 in). 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 bodies. Each species has a distinct number of rings. Seahorses swim upright, another characteristic not shared by their closepipefish relatives, which swim horizontally. Razorfish are the only other fish that swim vertically like a seahorse. Unusual among fish, a seahorse has a flexible, well-defined neck. It also sports a coronet on its head, which is distinct for each individual.
Seahorses swim very poorly, rapidly fluttering a dorsal fin and using pectoral fins (located behind their eyes) to steer. The slowest-moving fish in the world is H. zosterae (the dwarf seahorse), with a top speed of about 5 ft (1.5 m) per hour. Seahorses have nocaudal 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 their eyes can move independently of each other (like those of a chameleon).