Sea horses devour shrimp as they hide among the vegetation in Fiji

Seahorses are beautiful little animals that are fascinating to watch. But seeing them close up in the wild is something that few people have experienced. These lucky scuba divers in Fiji have found a small population of the elusive creatures hiding among the weeds on an sandy embankment. They are drifting carefully over the sand in search of them. Seahorses are fish but they do have scales like other fish. Instead, they have skin that is stretched over bony plates. These bony plates also serve as protection from predators. These are one of the few fish that swim upright. They propel themselves through the water by using their dorsal fin. They grip weeds and structures using their prehensile tails, hanging on in this manner to resist the current. Masters of camouflage, they blend in well with their surroundings. They are even capable of growing and reabsorbing spines as needed, depending on the vegetation and structure on which they are spending time. The most unusual thing about this animal is that the males carry the eggs until they hatch. The female deposits her eggs in the male's brood pouch where fertilization occurs. The eggs obtain nourishment from the yolk sacs and also from the male until they mature and are released. The male also supplies calcium that is needed for the formation of bones. and he facilitates gas exchange and waste transport as the young grow. After 2-4 weeks, the young are expelled through muscular contraction. The female continues to visit the male during the gestation period. Within 24 hours of delivering the young, the male is ready to receive another batch of eggs for fertilization and incubation. The young will be set out on their own and they need no care from the parents after birth. Less than 0.5% of young will survive to adulthood, but this is a comparatively high survival rate when compared with fish eggs that are abandoned and left unprotected during the time required to develop and hatch. The fact that the male incubates the eggs allows the female to develop a new clutch of eggs in the meantime, increasing the amount of offspring that a breeding pair can produce. Seahorses are well adapted for feeding within patches of vegetation. Their long shouts allow them to snatch food from the water around them and also to capture prey that hide in smaller spaces within the weeds. Because they have very basic digestive systems and no stomachs, they digest food slowly. In order to survive, they must eat constantly. Their preferred diet is small crustaceans, such as shrimp. Seahorses are unique and beautiful creatures that are a delight to discover while exploring in the ocean.