Seahorses are the world’s most curious creatures. They are actually fish (they swim upright but are not very good at it, hence why they hang on to seagrass or coral to stop swaying about in choppy waters. Unique in that the males give birth, they ‘dance’ for around 9 hours during mating. With no stomach or teeth, seahorses spend their lives cruising around seagrass meadows and mangroves, carrying babies in their kangaroo-style pouch and looking for food with their unique long snouts.
Sadly seahorses are endangered, and in dire need of our help. Just like that video of the sea turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nostril – a similar photo of a seahorse went viral, when it was found clinging to a plastic cotton bud in the sea (rather than natural coral or seagrass). At least these happenings created change, with many places and countries banning plastic straws and cotton buds.
The Seahorse Trust has more information on helping seahorses. Aside from not polluting our seas with rubbish and oil, another big issue is ‘traditional medicine’ where millions of seahorses are captured alive and then left to die, before being used in false remedies thought to cure impotence. Seahorses are also killed to make souvenirs, sold in shops alongside starfish and coral.
Also don’t visit aquariums, as these are just like marine versions of zoos, full of miserable creatures usually stuck in enclosures far smaller than the wild. Seahorses are often captured from the wild to live in aquariums, and many don’t survive for more than a few weeks. And for those that do, the shock and stress of people taking photographs of them can kill them.
The final hazards to seahorses are boat anchores (which destroy seagrass beds, where sea turtles also feed) and mooring buoys (designed to keep sailors safe) but again harm seahorses and other marine creatures). The good news is that new advanced mooring systems are now being used in Norfolk, to offer the same protection but without damage to the ocean floor. They use elastic to lift chains offthe seabed (even at low tide) and a helical screw over a weighted anchor (load-tested so boaters can hold vessels in place).
the curious world of seahorses
The Curious World of Seahorses is a book about the ocean’s most charismatic and mysterious inhabitant. As one marine biologist says ‘When God created the seahorse – he may have had one too many!’ Till Hein is a science journalist and history graduate. A ‘great friend of fish’, he has written about finned creatures (including sharks) for over 10 years. He lives in Berlin, Germany.
This entertaining yet informative book shares the world of seahorses, revealing their secrets, their appearance in Greek and Celtic mythology and even the medieval belief that they were descended from dragons! This book is sure to charm you into adoration of one of the most incredible creatures on earth.