A seahorse floating in the blue. Why do seahorses hold onto coral?
A seahorse floating in the blue. Photo by Paul Hewart / Unsplash

Seahorses are often found holding onto coral. They are undeniable cute with their snout-like noses and full bellies. But cuddly they are not. Seahorses have a bony structure that helps protect them from predators. And unfortunately, that also makes them terrible swimmers. This is why seahorses need their all-important tail to help them survive!

Why do Seahorses hold onto Coral

Seahorses are the slowest fish in the ocean and are often at the mercy of the current. This is why seahorses have a strong and unique tail that helps them anchor onto coral and other objects, allowing them to take a break from the currents, and to rest and feed.

Learn more about the ocean’s currents and how the temperature affects marine life.

Seahorses have a tiny fin that is their only method of propulsion. They use a ‘swim-bladder’ to move up and down by adjusting the volume of air in a tiny pocket inside their bodies. This makes it seem as if they are bouncing up and down.

Seahorses instinctively know how to use their tails from birth. Similar to human babies gripping their mother’s finger, a seahorse will wrap its tail around the nearest object to steady themselves.

Seahorses are known to die from exhaustion from the strong currents that push them around. This is how their tail will help them, by gripping onto any steady object that is nearby. Even an old human-made cotton swab.

A pygmy seahorse holding onto coral
A pygmy seahorse found in Mabul – Malaysia. Photo courtesy of Manson / Yiboy

More information about Seahorses

Seahorses usually live in shallower waters where there are weeds, grass, or coral to hold onto. When the weather becomes rougher, they are known to venture into deeper and calmer waters.

The tiny fin that seahorses have is a ‘dorsal fin’ that beats 30-70 times in a second. They also have pectoral fins on either side of their heads to help steering and keeping stable.

Seahorses have excellent eyesight and since their eyes on either side of their head; they can see each eye independently. This assists with finding their food.

The long snout on a seahorse is very handy for sucking in food, similar to a vacuum cleaner. It can reach into tiny crevices and suck up tiny plankton and small crustacea. The mouth/snout can even expand to accommodate for the food, but they have no teeth so they don’t chew their food source.

A yellow seahorse when diving in Myanmar
Yellow Seahorse in the Mergui Archipelago – Myanmar. Photo courtesy of Camille / The Smiling Seahorse Ranong

How do Seahorses have Babies?

Is it true that seahorses mate for life? Yes, it is. While seahorses will have their own territory to hang out and feed in, mates will meet up every day. The two seahorses will spiral around an object and circle each other to display their courtship.

And this part is true too, the male seahorse will carry the eggs of baby seahorses in his pouch! The female deposits her eggs into the male’s pouch when they mate. Up to 1,500 eggs at a time. The male then releases sperm to fertilize those eggs. After birth, the male will rest and not eat for several hours. However, they have been known to snack on their offspring if the baby seahorses are still hanging around!

How do Seahorses help the Environment?

Seahorses, like other marine life, all play an important part in the ocean. They help keep the eco-system in check, by feeding on plankton, small fish, and small crustaceans, such as shrimp and krill. Without seahorses doing their bit, the population of their prey would rise exponentially, thus disrupting the natural balance in the underwater world.