For over five hundred million years, fish have been developing in the oceans. Fossils have been found that have dated the sea horse back around three million years ago. The Seahorse also known as a Sea Dragon have a unique capability to camouflage themselves in their natural habitat, it also swims in an upright position and are related to the Pipe fish. The Leafy sea dragon is found only in seaweed that is drifting in the undersea forests in Australia. Their name comes from the fact that their heads resemble a horse's head. They are not the best of swimmers and spend most of their time resting with its tail wrapped snuggly around the plants they so closely resemble, keeping them stationary. They have a small fin on their back allowing them to propel themselves forward that moves about thirty five times per second. They are able to turn and steer their bodies with small pectoral fins found on the back of their head.
Sea horses are found all around the world and prefer shallow warm tropical water. There are about forty different species of sea horse with many common features; some are very tiny and difficult to see measuring about half an inch tall with the largest of the species being about eight inches tall.
They are a bony fish that has no scales instead they have a transparent skin that stretches over their skeletal bodies. The Seahorse eats continuously sucking food through its long nose to stay alive because it has no teeth or stomach, and their food goes through their bodies very quickly. At two weeks of age, one seahorse can consume about 4000 brine shrimp daily. Each Seahorse has a small crown on its head that, like the human fingerprint, is unique to that specific fish.
Some have the unique ability of changing colors to better blend in with the flora where they live. They feed on small fish, water insects and a variety of invertebrates.
Interestingly the males carry the eggs for the young in a pouch that were placed there by the female during their unusual mating custom. Most mating for the seahorse occurs during a full moon, and is continuous throughout the year. The courtship dance of the Seahorse includes swimming and spinning around side by side, and during this dance, they change colors. Seahorses are monogamous and mate for life. After the eggs are deposited into the males pouch the male swells up and the female returns to her thin frame, and swims away. The male releases the sperm in the water and swims through it to fertilize the eggs. During the gestation period of two to four weeks the female visits the male for about six minutes each day to check on her clutch. Like other fish, the babies are not cared for after birth and swim away; when they swim together they are referred to a herd of Seahorses. The number of hatchlings varies from as few as five to well over one thousand.
They have many predators' including people in China and Indonesia, who hunt them to be used as herbal medicines. Commercial fishermen use large nets catching thousands of Sea Horses yearly. Their natural habitats are being depleted quickly resulting in a decline in their existence. Other natural predators to the seahorse are penguins, crabs, manta ray and the stingray. The largest killer of the seahorse is the weather. They often die from exhaustion after a storm because they spend a lot of time trying to swim in the fast-moving water for an extended period of time.
They do not do well in captivity and often die from disease and stress. May 15, 2004 seahorses were given international protection.