Glossary Nearctic living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico. Neotropical living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America. Pacific Ocean body of water between the southern ocean above 60 degrees south latitude , Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. Also an aquatic biome consisting of the ocean bottom below the pelagic and coastal zones.
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Description based on 19 specimens: Common adult height is 13 to 19 cm, body rings that are divided into 11 trunk rings and 39 tail rings that have multiple spines on each ring. A snout length of 2. A head length of 2. The coronet is medium to very high in females, and are tilted backwards with 5 well-defined points, sharp edges or flanges at the top. Other distinctive features; males commonly have a prominent keel and brooding pouch, and females often have a dark patch below the anal fin after reaching sexual maturity.
Pacific seahorses can be a variety of colors, including green, reddish-maroon, gray, yellow, gold and various shades of brown, and may have fine white light and dark markings running vertically down their bodies. Pacific seahorses are nocturnal and are found in a variety of sub-tidal habitats to a maximum depth of about 60 m ft. Since they are relatively strong swimmers they often venture to this depth shortly after birth, because there ability to grip with their tail is delayed.
They are occasionally caught at the surface up to about 10 m. Some populations prefer coastal waters with sea kelp and eelgrass at depths between 1 and 20 meters. Humans are responsible for destroying the environments where they live and polluting other environments causing habitat loss. Commercial fishing nets also catch tons of them annually as bycatch further lowering seahorse numbers. Feeding Behavior Ecology Seahorses feed on bottom-swarming organisms such as mysids, small crustaceans and other plankton.
Mysids are very small seldom exceeding 30 mm in length shrimp-like crustaceans which can be found throughout the oceanic water column and are also found in freshwater environments as well.
Some mysids feed on small particles which they collect by grooming their body surface, whereas others are predators of zooplankton. Some mysids are scavengers. Marine mysids often are found in large swarms and are an important part of many fish diets. Seahorses are super-skilled ambush predators. Rather than chasing their food, they wait, unnoticed as they are masters of camouflage, for prey to pass by. They then suck their unsuspecting victim though their tube-like mouth or bony snout, as they lack teeth and a stomach, before swallowing it whole with a rapid snap of their head.
Camouflage also helps the seahorse avoid predators, such as crabs, sea urchins, rays and other fish. Although, the biggest predator of seahorses are humans. Since they are attracted to shrimping grounds as a natural food source, populations are being decimated by shrimp trawlers as bycatch which takes a heavy toll on the larger and more mature seahorses of this species. Life History Pacific seahorses reach sexual maturity at 8 to 10 months, with a life span of 3 to 5 years.
Once a seahorse finds a mate, they begin a lengthy final courtship dance. This dance can last eight hours or longer, and culminates in reproduction. As the embryos develop, the fluid inside the pouch changes in salinity to acclimate the embryos to the surrounding sea water.
Males can brood up to 2, eggs at once, but the normal brood is 60 to for this species. Males may brood multiple times in a breeding season, which lasts from late September to early May. Although seahorses are not monogamists , they will form a breading pair during the length of the breading season. After a period of 14 to 15 days, varying with water temperature and diet, the male goes into labor and must force the young out of its pouch one at a time, sometimes taking hours, producing hundreds of live seahorses called fry.
The baby seahorses are fully-formed and measure approximately 6 to 7 mm after birth. Birth marks the end of parental care, as young are born fully self-sufficient. Seahorses are over-exploited with 20 million sold for traditional and Chinese medicines, the aquarium trade, and as dried curios every year.
Their habitats are among the most threatened marine environments. According to Project Seahorse of McGill University in Montreal, in the last five years many seahorse populations have declined by as much as 50 percent. Humans also use the seahorse for crafts and jewelry. The popularity of this has soared as a common trend.
People that live in areas of the seahorse continue to kill them for this purpose. They make items and sell them to local tourists. Some of these entities even have websites online where they sell such products. Mexico and Peru are the largest exporters of pacific seahorses, with more than 1 dry ton sold annually, mostly to Asian markets. Recently, Mexico has listed giant seahorses as a species subject to special protection, and fishermen are not allowed to intentionally catch these animals.
We will see if this has an impact on there export numbers. Many university and aquarium breeding programs have reduce the need to collect species from the wild. These animals are reproducing enough to satisfy aquariums and zoos nationwide, as well as some of the private aquarium trade. Techniques learned during these efforts are also regularly shared with other aquariums and zoos internationally and have far reaching benefits.
Further conservation efforts are needed such as, species management, public awareness and communication as well as legislation such as seahorses being adopted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as CITES.
Which is an international agreement signed by nations designed to ensure that international trade in animals and plants does not threaten their survival in the wild.
Description[ edit ] A pacific seahorse anchoring itself in eelgrass. Adult pacific seahorses range in size from 12 to 19 centimetres 4. Pacific seahorses can be a variety of colors, including green, brown, maroon, grey, and yellow. Males can be distinguished from females by their prominent keel. The only known oceanic island population occurs around the Galapagos Islands.