Turks and Caicos Wildlife Spotlight: SEAHORSES

The western Atlantic Ocean off Grand Turk may be home for three different seahorse species, the dwarf, the long snout and the white lined seahorse. Here is are photos of a pair of White Lined Seahorses I took in about 30 feet of water off English Point last year. Its mate is pictured below.

These guys were holding onto some yellow sponges with their prehensile tails looking quite at home along the crest of the Grand Turk wall. They aren’t strong swimmers so any current means a wild ride. Instead, they use their tiny fins and swim bladder to move up and down the water column looking for food and spend most of their lives holding on. This pair of seahorses is each about 7 inches long. 

They are monogamous during breeding season so they are usually found in pairs.  The male carries the eggs and newly hatched young in his pouch until they are ready to swim free. Seahorses do not have stomachs so they need to constantly feed to stay nourished, up to 50 times a day! 

They also don’t have teeth and simply vacuum food in and swallow it whole. Since they aren’t strong swimmers they rely on ambush hunting. Sitting quietly camouflaged until something tasty swims by. They eat small fish, shrimp, and plankton. Their eyes move independently of one another which helps them find prey. 

Seashores are found worldwide in a variety of temperatures, have excellent camouflage skills and are kept as pets by some aquarists. Traditionally wild caught, which caused their population to drop there is a push for captive breeding programs. Other places in the world eat them dried!

All in all, they are fascinating and beautiful animals. We always feel fortunate when we see them on a dive.