Sea horses are fish by every definition. In the gulf of Eilat there are at least 7 species while worldwide there are about 200 species.
The head of the sea-horse resembles that of a horse and that is the origin of its name. Its body is covered partly with spikes and partly with lumps.
Unlike most fish, they have an outer skeleton that is designed to give them protection from predators. It does not have teeth in its mouth and because of the complexity of its body it is a weak swimmer. Fins on its front and back are used to swim in the ocean and the tail is used to grasp with. (It swims upright.)
Sea horses can change their coloring in a very short period of time, from yellow brown to be bright and colorful. The objective of the color change is to match the surrounding colors and help camouflage it from its enemies.
It is mainly found in fields of marine grass where the currents are weak and where their camouflage can be optimized.
They are between a half a centimeter and four centimeters in size.
They feed mainly on tiny shrimp (plankton) and invertebrates that they suck in through their long mouths.
They live for between two to four years.
The Pregnant Male
The abdomen of the male is round and barreled and has a pouch. The abdomen of the female has a laying tube. At the breeding time, the male begins a “courting dance” to indicate to the female that he is ready. They wrap around each other and the female lays her eggs in the male’s pouch, and then the male fertilizes the eggs.
The male incubates the eggs in his pouch and during this period the embryo feed on the nutrients within the egg.
After 10 days to two weeks, depending on the temperature of the water, little fry about 1 cm in size are hatched in the pouch. The seas horse fry leave the pouch and disperse in shallow waters.
Their unique shape is already recognizable at this early age, except for their snout that grows with age.
In the vicinity of the Eilat corals, there are 2 of the 7 species
Porcupine Sea Horse –it is characterized by 4 spikes on the top of its head. Its body and head are covered with many sharp spikes.
Smooth Sea Horse – has one spike on the top of its head and its body has no protruding spikes and is more or less smooth.