60 Spectacular Seahorses and Seadragons [PICS]

April 25th, 2013 Permalink

If you don’t live near an ocean or urban aquarium or even a zoo, then you might not have seen many seahorses and seadragons to realize how stunning these tiny sea creatures are. With a long face like a horse, they have an almost mythical appearance, but are far from immortal as none of the seahorse family are strong swimmers and they often die during storms. They excel at camouflage and many can change colors to hide themselves in their natural underwater surroundings. There are declining numbers as these creatures are used in Asian herbal medicines. Bizarrely, for seahorses, leafy and weedy sea dragons and even pipefish — a relative — males are responsible for childbearing. Here are some fun facts and sensational shots of these tiny “sea monsters” that are truly spectacular! [60 Photos]

Lined seahorse, Hippocampus erectus

Lined seahorse, Hippocampus erectus. Delicate and beautiful seahorses get their name from the ancient Greek hippos meaning “horse” and kampos meaning “sea monster.” The genus “Hippocampus” covers the 54 species of marine fish. The lined seahorse is also known as northern seahorse or spotted seahorse. Its length is about 6 inches (15 centimeters) and it can live for up to four years. Photo #1 by Brian Gratwicke

Rainbow-colored seahorse

Spectacular rainbow-colored seahorse at Hamburg, Germany. Photo #2 by Zanthia


Leafy Seadragon in the Georgia Aquarium

Leafy seadragon in the Georgia Aquarium. Both seahorse and seadragon are the spelled as one word by official governments such as Australia, but may commonly be used as one or two words. In the wild, the leafy seadragon has plenty of potential predators in surrounding waters. However since it is the master of camouflage, the leafy seadragon can best manage to hide itself easily among the plants and is therefore rarely eaten. Photo #3 by lecates

Phyllopteryxm Weedy Seadragon

Weedy Seadragon is a cousin to the more showy leafy seadragon. Weedy sea dragons are protected by the Australian government due to illegal collectors that have threatened the population. The IUCN Red List has weedy seadragons as “endangered.” These are bizarre looking underwater creatures; even more odd is that weedy sea dragons swim horizontally with their abdomen facing downward. The little carnivores use their tubular snout like a drinking straw to suck up tiny prey. Photo #4 by Ta-graphy

Leafy sea dragon at Birch Aquarium, San Diego, CA

Leafy sea dragon at Birch Aquarium, San Diego, CA. The leafy can grow to a length of up to 13.8 in (35 cm), while the weedy is even bigger and can reach up to 18 in (46 cm) in length. When the males are ready to mate, their leafy tails will turn bright yellow. Photo #5 by Nathan Rupert

The Black-Sea seahorse is a rare sight in the shallow waters of Eforie-Sud

“The Black-Sea seahorse is a rare sight in the shallow waters of Eforie-Sud,” Romania, according to the photographer. Photo #6 by Florin DUMITRESCU

Leafy sea dragon in Atlanta Aquarium

Leafy seadragon in Atlanta Aquarium. In nature, leafy seadragons live in the tropical coastal waters of south and west Australia. Photo #7 by lecates

Thorny Seahorse seen while diving Egypt

Thorny Seahorse is sometimes also called the spiny seahorse due to the distinct spines sticking out on it. This one was seen while diving Egypt, but thorny seahorses have one of the largest species ranges of any seahorse and can grow to 6.7 in (17 cm) in length. Photo #8 by prilfish

Seahorse at Oregon Coast Aquarium

Seahorse at Oregon Coast Aquarium. Strange but true, the seahorse is not a good swimmer. The most unusual thing about seahorses? The males get pregnant, not the females. They are among the only animal species on Earth in which the male bears the unborn young. Photo #9 by shellac

Weedy seadragon in Cabbage Tree Bay, Sydney, Australia

Slow swimming weedy seadragon in Cabbage Tree Bay, Sydney, Australia. They like to keep near the kelp forests and reefs to camouflage themselves. Photo #10 by Richard Ling

Potbelly Seahorses at Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga, TN

Not pregnant, but Big-belly, or Pot-bellied seahorses at the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga. These are some of the largest seahorses and can reach a length of 13.8 inches (35 cm). Photo #11 by Joanne Merriam

Thorny Seahorse

The thorny seahorse, according to Wikipedia, is like many other species of seahorse — increasingly threatened by traditional and patented Chinese medicine. It is “listed as vulnerable by both the IUCN and the Viet Nam National Red Data Book.” Photo #12 by Bernd

Leafy Seadragon & Weedy Seadragon

Like seahorses, Leafy and Weedy seadragon males are the sex that cares for the developing eggs. Babies are completely independent once they have hatched. Photo #13 by Schristia

Lembeh Seadragon - Kyonemichthys Rumengani

This was marked as “Lembeh Seadragon,” but Pipefish are related to seahorses and seadragons, albeit a little like the ugly cousin of the family. Pipefish have longer, straighter bodies with tiny mouths. There are about 200 known pipefish species in the world. Photo #14 by Stephen Childs

Seahorses, frilly 'pipehorses' or leafy seadragons in Wilhelma zoo and botanical garden, Germany

Seahorses, frilly ‘pipehorses’ or leafy seadragons? These bright yellow creatures are listed on Wikimedia as “unidentified,” but seen in Wilhelma zoo and botanical garden, Germany. Photo #15 by –Xocolatl

Macro photography of a gray and of a yellow seahorse at Zurich Zoo

Macro photography of a gray and of a yellow seahorse at Zurich Zoo. When eating or interacting with other seahorses, these fish with no scales make “clicking” sounds. Photo #16 by Tambako the Jaguar & #17 by Tambako the Jaguar

Sea dragons in love, Leafy seems to be in love with Weedy

Leafy seems to be in love with Weedy. Photo #18 by moogs

Leafy Seadragons swim-dancing at Dallas Aquarium

Leafy seadragons swimming as if dancing at the Dallas Aquarium. Wikipedia states, “The leafy seadragon uses the fins along the side of its head to allow it to steer and turn. However, its outer skin is fairly rigid, limiting mobility. Individual leafy seadragons have been observed remaining in one location for extended periods of time (up to 68 hours) but will sometimes move for lengthy periods. The tracking of one individual indicated it moved at up to 150 meters (490 feet) per hour.” Photo #19 by Alicia Lee

Pygmy seahorse well-camouflaged to blend in with the soft coral around Cebu, Philippines

Pygmy seahorse well-camouflaged to blend in with the soft coral around Cebu, Philippines. Pygmies reach a maximum length of less than an inch, 2.4 cm. “The pygmy seahorse is found in coastal areas ranging from southern Japan and Indonesia to northern Australia and New Caledonia on reefs and slopes at a depth of 10–40 meters (33–130 ft);” but it is extremely hard for divers to spot these tiny seahorses who live within sea grasses, soft corals, or sea fans. Photo #20 by Klaus Stiefel & #21 by Klaus Stiefel

Ornate Ghostpipefish - Solenostomus paradoxus

Ornate Ghost-pipefish – Solenostomus paradoxus – Myanmar, Thailand. Pipefish are like their seahorse relatives with males responsible for most of the parenting duties. The pipefish comes in a variety of colors and sizes, ranging from 1 inch to 26 inches in length. Photo #22 by divemecressi

Up close and personal with a leafy seadragon

Up close and personal with a leafy seadragon. The photographer wrote, “They grow leafy protrusions for camouflage against predators and to be able to sneak up on their prey.” Photo #23 by greyloch

Weedy seadragon, male weedy seadragon with eggs

Closeups of weedy seadragons: Left: Weedy seadragon at Shelly Beach, Australia. Right: Eggs on the male weedy seadragon. The photographer explained, “The males carry the fertilized eggs on their bodies, just like the males in their relatives, the pipefishes, do.” Photo #24 by Richard LingS & #25 by Klaus Stiefel

Seahorse mating dance

The photographer noted, “Every morning, seahorse couples do a mating dance in order to reinforce their permanent bond. They will mate for life.” Photo #26 by Gulf Specimen

Weedy seadragon, bizarrely appearing to fly through the water

Weedy seadragon, bizarrely appearing to ‘fly’ through the water. “Otherwordly inhabitants of the Sea Life Centre, Scarborough,” noted the photographer. Sea dragons develop their color and style of appendages based upon food supply, environment, depth and geography. Photo #27 by Mad_m4tty

Pot-bellied and Lined Sea horses

Left: Pot-Bellied Seahorse hanging out by some seaweed. Right: Lined seahorse at Blue Heron Bridge, FL. Photo #28 by Nathan Rupert & #29 by Matt Sullivan

Toothless pipefish is snake-like and has a long, thin straight body and tail

Toothless and thin, the pipefish is snake-like and has a long, straight body and tail. Photo #30 by divemecressi

Seahorse convention

Seahorse convention. Did you know? They have no stomach and need to eat almost constantly to stay alive. Seahorses also often die when there is a storm because they are very poor swimmers. Photo #31 by Quinn Dombrowski

Seahorse in Birch Aquarium

Seahorse in Birch Aquarium. A male courts a female for days before potentially mating. During the courting ritual, seahorses will curl their tails around each other. Only some seahorses actually mate for life, but they do stay together at least during mating season. Photo #32 by Antoine Taveneaux

Illuminated Leafy Sea dragon

Illuminated Leafy Seadragon. Photo #33 by Charlie J

Juvenile Ornate Ghost PipeFish

Juvenile Ornate Ghost PipeFish. There are a few species that can change their color to match their surroundings. Photo #34 by Steve Childs

Seahorse cluster, tail around head, and closeup of seahorse

Left: “Get off my head!” Sea horses @ Sea Life Scheveningen, The Hague. Right: Closeup. Photo #35 by Jeroen Kransen & #36 by Silvain de Munck

Seahorses, Couple for life

Couple for life. Photo #37 by Romain Guy

Seahorse is the title given to 54 species of marine fish in the genus Hippocampu

Seahorse is the title given to 54 species of marine fish in the genus Hippocampu. Some are capable of changing color in order to blend into their surroundings. Photo #38 by Silvain de Munck

Schultz's Pipefish - Corythoichthys schultzi - in Egypt

Schultz’s Pipefish – Corythoichthys schultzi – in Egypt. Photo #39 by divemecressi

Stunning seahorses, seadragons, pygmy seadragon

Left: Weedy seadragon in Lisbon, Portugal. Right Top: “Hippocampus.” Right Bottom: Pygmy seahorse. Photo #40 by Zanthia & #41 by Vic DeLeon & #42 by Yusmar Yahaya

Seahorse silhouette, in the shadows at Monterey Bay Aquarium

In the shadows of Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Guinness World Records lists seahorses as the slowest fish in the ocean. The Dwarf Seahorse moves less than 5 feet per hour and some swim even slower. Photo #43 by David Goehring

Scuba diving with a 'great seahorse'

Scuba diving with a ‘great seahorse,’ Did you know: Less than 1% of seahorse eggs develop into mature seahorses. Not strong swimmers, they curl their tail around coral or seaweed so they won’t float away. Adding to declining numbers is the fact that the seahorse is used as an herbal medicine regimen in many Asian countries. Photo #44 by Nemo’s great uncle

Seahorse, master of disguise via camouflage and some change colors to blend into their environment

Master of disguise via camouflage to blend into its environment. Left: White’s Seahorse anchored to sponge-encrusted netting. Balmoral Baths, Mosman, NSW. Right: Dhiho’s seahorse. Photo #45 by Richard Ling & #46 by Nemo’s great uncle

Pygmy Seahorse beautifully camouflage among soft coral in Cabilao island, Philippines

Pygmy seahorse. The photographer noted, “This miniature seahorse, among the smallest living vertebrates, evolved to beautifully camouflage itself among the branches of soft corals. Seen in Cabilao Island, Bohol, Visayas, Philippines.” Photo #47 by Klaus Stiefel

Kissing seahorses at the Montery Bay Aquarium

Stunning capture of kissing seahorses at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo #48 by kqedquest

The leafy seadragon is protected by the Australian government

“Leafy sea dragon, a cousin of seahorses,” wrote the photographer. “It is now protected by the Australian government. I wish I was protected by some Government too!” Photo #49 by Pierre Metivier / James D. Watt/J.H. Editorial

Entire family of Syngnathidae fish which includes seahorses, pipefishes, weedy seadragons and leafy sea dragons

Entire family of Syngnathidae fish which includes seahorses, pipefishes, weedy seadragons and leafy seadragons. Top: Male Ringed Pipefish carrying eggs after fertilization on his underside. Left: Seahorse at Gatlinburg, TN, Ripley Aquarium of the Smokies. Right: Leafy and weedy Sea Dragons, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA. Photo #50 by Klaus Stiefel & #51 by Peter Miller & #52 by Jim G

Thorny Seahorse - Hippocampus jayakari - in Egypt. It can change color to blend in with its surroundings

Thorny Seahorse – Hippocampus jayakari – in Egypt. It can change color to blend in with its surroundings. Photo #53 by divemecressi

As seen on night dive, pipefish kissing coral

Egypt-Sinai-Dahab (Nightdive), pipefish saying. “Kiss me, coral.” Photo #54 by divemecressi

Elusive seahorse

Elusive seahorse. Photo #55 by Kelly McCarthy

Potbelly seahorse and seahorse ultra closeup

Left: Potbelly seahorse at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans. Right: Ultra close-up. Photo #56 by Mills Baker & #57 by Sander van der Wel

Underwater photography, lined seahorse swimming near diving gear

Underwater photography, lined seahorse swimming near diving gear. Photo #58 by Kevin Bryant

Seahorse swimming into the blue

Swimming into the blue. Photo #60 by Taro Taylor

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