Seahorse

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47, See text for species.

Seahorses compose the fish genus Hippocampus within the family Syngnathidae, in order Syngnathiformes. Syngnathidae also includes the pipefishes. "Hippocampus" comes from the Ancient Greek hippos meaning “horse” and kampos meaning “sea monster”.[2]

There are nearly 50 species of seahorse. They are mainly found in shallow tropical and temperate waters throughout the world. They prefer to live in sheltered areas such as seagrass beds, coral reefs, or mangroves. Colonies have been found in European waters such as the Thames Estuary.[3] From North America down to South America there are approximately four species, ranging from the very small (dwarf seahorses are only about 2.5 centimeters (1 in)) to much larger specimens off the Pacific Coast of Central America (the foot-long H. ingens). H. erectus are larger seahorses that range from Nova Scotia to around Uruguay. Three species live in the Mediterranean Sea: H. hippocampus (long snout), H. brevirostris (short snout) and H. fuscus (immigrated from the Red Sea). These fish form territories, with males staying in about 1 square metre (11 sq ft) of their habitat while females range about one hundred times that area. They bob around in sea grass meadows, mangrove stands, and coral reefs where they adopt murky brown and gray patterns to camouflage themselves among the sea grass. During social moments or in unusual surroundings, seahorses turn bright colors.

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