The Seahorses (Hippocampus) are a type of underwater fish belonging to the family Syngnathidae. They breathe through gills and swish in the waters with their dorsal fins and by adjusting the air volume in their swim bladders. Seahorses are commonly found in the tropical and temperate waters where their diet consists of mainly small crustacea.
“They looked like miniature horses with rolling eyes and tiny monkeys’ tails… and danced every day with their elegant partners. If stories were all that were left of seahorses, I don’t suppose anyone would believe us.”
~ Helen Scales, author of the book: The Story of Seahorses from Myth to Reality
Seahorses are monogamy creatures. Once they have identified a mating partner, they remain loyal for at least the entire breeding season of 6 months and in most cases, for life.
The Seahorse dance is a key courting behavior that is exhibited as part of two mates’ daily morning greeting ritual. Studies have shown that it serves to strengthen the duo bonds. The dance involves physical contact such as tails entanglement and synchronous swimming. In the process, they access each other’s reproductive status and synchronize their reproductive cycles. The elegant dance is even paired with beautiful color changes on their bodies.
During the dance, at a particular magical moment, courting transitions to mating. The duo will lock together while the female deposit her eggs into the male’s brood pouch. The egg is then fertilized in the pouch and the male carries the young for around 3 weeks until they hatch.
Throughout the pregnancy, the pair of seahorses continue to dance every morning for around 6 minutes. After the male seahorse gives birth, their independent offspring swishes off to explore the wonders of the new world.
Without wasting any time in declaring their loyalty to one another, in the next morning, the whole courting and mating process for the lovely duo repeats. Their next dancing ritual might last for up to 9 hours where they unite again to create the next batch of offspring.
What a beautiful sight to behold!
- Vincent, A. C. J. (1995). A role for daily greetings in maintaining seahorse pair bonds. Animal Behaviour, 49(1), 258–260. https://doi.org/10.1016/0003-3472(95)80178-2.
- Vincent, A. C. J., Ahnesjö, I., Berglund, A., & Rosenqvist, G. (1992). Pipefishes and seahorses: Are they all sex role reversed? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 7(7), 237–241. https://doi.org/10.1016/0169-5347(92)90052-D.
- Williams, N. (2009). Seahorse revelations. Current Biology, 19(24), R1099. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2009.11.032.
- LANGLEY, L. I. Z. (2016, June 25). Romance of the Seas: Strange Mating Habits of the Seahorse. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/facts/seahorses
~ Just another article written for a school elective’s assignment.