- One of the largest of the 34 species of seahorses.
- Classic seahorse shape with a large dorsal (back) fin and a prehensile tail that the animal uses to wrap around objects.
- Seahorses have skin instead of scales.
- Can be gray, yellow, gold, reddish-maroon, or brown in coloration.
- Can reach 11.8 inches in length.
- Females larger than the males.
- Males often have a prominent brooding pouch.
- Adult females often have a prominent dark spot below their anal fin and a taller coronet (bump on head) than males.
- San Diego, California to Peru.
- Galapagos Islands.
- Lives in offshore waters.
- Often camouflaged with black coral and gorgonian coral.
- Found at depths of 33 feet or greater.
- Can live in shallower water, even occasionally at the surface, wrapped around seagrass and algae.
- Pacific seahorses reach maturity at 8-10 months.
- Pacific seahorses exhibit a lengthy courtship dance that can last over eight hours.
- The female seahorse deposits her eggs on the male, who incubates them for up to six weeks.
- A normal brood is 60-400 eggs, but can be up to 2,000.
- The male then gives birth to hundreds of tiny, live seahorses, which are miniature versions of adult seahorses.
- The young are fully self-sufficient and can swim away immediately.
- Breeding season is late September to early May, and males can brood multiple times in that window, carrying each brood for only 14-15 days.
- Bottom-dwelling organisms such as mysid shrimp, plankton, and juvenile fish.
- Pacific yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna.
- Crabs, sea urchins, great blue herons, and rays.
- Heavily caught by humans as bycatch in the shrimp trawling industry.
- Seahorses lack teeth and suck in their prey through their tubelike mouth.
- Seahorses can move each eye independently.
- The Pacific seahorse is nocturnal, only feeding on mysids at night.
Sources: MarineBio.org; UnderwaterPhotographyGuide; ProjectSeaHorse.org
Photo: Lorrie Blackard Friet