Hippocampe - Aquarium La Rochelle

Short-snouted Seahorse

Hippocampus hippocampus
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Conservation status :

Deficient data

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  • Group
    Actinopterygii
    Vertebrates
  • Size
    12 centimetres
  • Distribution area

    The common seahorse lives in the Bay of Biscay, the Gulf of Guinea and the Mediterranean Sea. There are more than 50 species of seahorse in the world, but only two along the coasts of Europe.

Behind
this character

Its name comes from the Greek 'hippocampus', or 'curved horse', in reference to its strange shape.

In fact, seahorses are the only fish whose heads are not an extension of their bodies. They don't really have scales but are instead covered with bony plates, and their modified caudal fin allows them to latch onto algae. They use their jaws, joined together in the form of a tube, to catch the zooplankton that makes up their diet.

 

The male seahorse has the unique feature of a pouch at the base of the stomach that can accommodate 100 to 200 of the female's ova. After fertilizing them, he keeps the eggs in that pouch for several weeks, safely out of the reach of predators. The eggs hatch inside the pouch, and the male contracts his muscles to eject the 15 mm babies, now fully formed.

 

Traditional eastern medicine has been using the seahorse for more than 400 years, believing it to be able to cure asthma, baldness, sterility, and much more. This trade, which has endangered many different species, has been subject to international regulation since 2004 (under the Washington Convention, or CITES).

« In Greek mythology, the sea-horse was a sea monster that was half horse, half serpent. It was often portrayed pulling Poseidon, god of the sea, on his chariot. »

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