Seahorse (also written sea-horse and sea horse) is the name given to 46 species of small marine fish in the genus Hippocampus. Even though these charismatic creatures are banned as trade items, they are still heavily traded in the illicit international markets. Here, I'll give you a minute to absorb that. In many regions including China the use of the seahorse for medicine and herbs continues. The movement is so imperceptibly stealthy, other copepods don't even notice. And who would have thought that such gentle, slow creatures could be so mightily fast when it comes to snagging a meal. It's not sharks. It's not bluefin tuna. We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote! I don't even have a 90% accuracy rate bringing home the right groceries from the store. "Hippocampus" comes from the Ancient Greek hippokampos (ἱππόκαμπος hippókampos), itself from hippos (ἵππος híppos) meaning "horse" and kampos (κάμπος kámpos) meaning "sea monster". Once the seahorse is extremely close to the prey, it is able to jerk its head extremely quickly and consume the tiny copepod. Also, now that we have your attention on these phenomenal creatures, it's a good time to mention that they are in serious danger of extinction. Many marine scientists consider overfishing to be the worst impact humans are having on the oceans. When we look at a seahorse, we see a creature that barely seems to move -- it seems to more drift, or float with the current. Choose the least dangerous animal in the following list: great white shark, seahorse, vampire squid. By capturing fish faster than they can reproduce, we are harming entire ecosystems that interact with those species, from the food they eat to the predators that eat them. Seahorses (Hippocampus spp of the family Syngnathidae) are fascinating examples of bony fish. Yes, Seahorses. In this video you see the extremes of seahorse movement -- first moving so slow you're about to turn away from boredom and then so fast you aren't sure if you actually did see it move, you just know its prey is suddenly gone. The shape of their heads also helps them move through the water almost silently; when you combine that with their ability to camouflage into their surroundings thanks to helpful chromatophores within their skin cells, it’s clear that seahorses make apt hunters, proven by a predatory kill rate of around 90%. Discover Magazine went one step surther, labeling the technique "the stuff of nightmares.". A complete overhaul of fishing policies, requiring global cooperation, is needed to achieve a sustainable system. It's not barracuda. Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter. I F**kning Love Science writes, "Copepods are speedy little creatures that can zip away from predators after sensing impending danger from movement in the water. Because seahorses move so slowly, they are able to sneak up on them virtually undetected. Despite its ruthless attitude toward copepods, seahorses face innumerable other threats. 19 Bizarre and Beautiful Starfish Species, This Bird Pretends It's a Toxic, Spiny Caterpillar, Snakes Are Amazing! Learn more here, and in the following video that discusses first seahorse biology and then covers why they are disappearing at the hands of humans: Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer specializing in wildlife conservation. Dating back to 2004, the seahorses were placed on the Appendix 'Two,' of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna ("The life cycle of seahorses," 2010). Then with a lightening-fast movement of its head, the prey is in the seahorse's mouth before anyone but the seahorse realizes what just happened. Even in the slow-motion replay, the move is lightning fast: And a 90% accuracy?? If you picked seahorse, you're dead wrong. (Despite its fearsome name, the vampire squid doesn't hunt live prey). Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer specializing in wildlife conservation. Although they are native to the waters off more than 130 countries, seahorses are patchy in distribution. ©2020 Verizon Media. According to findings recently published in the journal of Nature Communications, the seahorse is one of the ocean’s deadliest assassins, by some measures even deadlier than the shark. Seahorses themselves are intentionally harvested by people for the curio and aquarium trade and for traditional me… Seahorses Are One of the Deadliest Creatures in the Sea. Yes, Seahorses. It turns out the trick is in the very movements that make us think it is a harmless, cute, kind of clumsy critter. WATCH the seahorse "pivot" in action, above. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that over 70% of the world’s fish species have been entirely exploited or depleted. Using advanced imaging techniques, researchers filmed the seahorse's kill shot in action. Several characteristics make seahorses naturally vulnerable to extinction. 5 of Their Most Extraordinary Abilities, 10 Creatures With Exceptionally Deceptive Disguises, 8 Strange Shark Facts to Sink Your Teeth Into, 16 Ocean Creatures That Live in Total Darkness, 10 of the Largest Living Creatures in the Sea, 17 Photos of Animals Enjoying the Nightlife, Fish Food: 13 Marine Animals Named by Hungry Biologists, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Once they've sneaked close enough, they snap their heads toward the animal -- often a tiny crustacean known as a copepod -- in a move called "pivot feeding.". According to findings recently published in the journal of Nature Communications, the seahorse is one of the ocean's deadliest assassins, by some measures even deadlier than the shark. Seahorses Are The Assassins Of The Sea, New Research Finds. While a great white's successful kill rate hovers around 48 percent, the seahorse boasts a 90 percent success rate, mainly, researchers say, because of its oddly shaped head. Searching for mates can be difficult and risky since seahorses are poor swimmers, found in low densities and rely on camouflage to hide from predators. But that very slow movement allows it to sneak up on prey undetected, since it barely disturbs the water around it. copepods are incredibly sensitive to movement. No, one of the deadliest creatures in the sea is not a species we even think of as a predator at all. Male seahorses are the ones who give birth. They have a unique body morphology with a horse-shaped head, large eyes, curved trunk, and a prehensile tail. Most wild seahorses (here the thorny seahorse Hippocampus histrix) are monogamous and some species mate for life. The female lays her eggs in the male's pouch for him to … Today is National Voter Registration Day! This approach works an astounding 90% of the time, making the seahorse one of the deadliest predators in the ocean.". Seahorses tend to have low birth rates, with lengthy parental care. These losses make the ecosystems more vulnerable to other disturbances, such as pollution. The problem is that the areas where they take them from are becoming obsolete. Mind-blowing. The most commonly traded seahorse species, Hippocampus erectus, is considered "vulnerable" due to its popularity in aquariums, as a curio and in traditional Chinese medicine. The achievement is even more remarkable, notes Ars Technica, because copepods are incredibly sensitive to movement, fleeing from "even tiny fluid deformations" around them. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Scientists found that seahorses float with the current, enabling them to gradually creep closer to their target. Their odd head morphology allows this technique to be successful, because it actually doesn’t disturb the water very much, kind of like how a boat moves through a no wake zone in a lake. Part of HuffPost Environment. A seahorse head moves through the water in near "hydrodynamic silence," meaning it barely disturbs the surrounding water and does not startle its prey as it approaches. As stated above, seahorses attach to coral reefs and call it their home. They are also known to cause serious forms of pollution to the environment and that makes it dangerous for the seahorses to continue living in such harsh conditions. Yep, the seahorse is a shockingly good hunter. She is the author of The Ethiopian Wolf: Hope at the Edge of Extinction. It is the seahorse. All rights reserved. In addition, the waters they live in are often exploited by people such as for fishing or urban development which degrades and destroys their habitat.

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