Sea horses and sea dragons

Sea horses and sea dragons are fascinating creatures that gracefully float above the sea floor, grabbing seagrass with their tails and feeding on small crustaceans. They are actually fish with a uniquely shaped body covered with bony plates that actually make them rather slow. More than 200 species of seahorses, sea dragons and pipefish make up the Syngnathidae family. Their name comes from the greek word syn (together) and gnathus (jaw), which means that their upper and lower jaw have fused, that makes sucking up their prey far easier. The shape of their mouth is not the only interesting feature; the ability of males to incubate fertilized eggs is also noted.


Sea horses

Sea horses, the most numerous representatives of the Syngnathidae family, are widespread in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Some 50 species of sea horses are currently described, varying in body size, color and shape. They have no teeth and no real stomach, so they have to constantly feed on smaller crustaceans and fish larvae that they catch from ambush. Males are easily recognizable by the shape of their abdomen with a visible abdominal pouch used for incubation. Incubation of up to 1500 eggs can last 6 weeks, when the male gives birth to live young, already capable for independent life.


Sea dragons

Sea dragons are found exclusively in coastal waters of southern and western Australia, where they inhabit rocky reefs, sand covered areas and seagrass meadows. Appendages on their body vary in color and size, depending on their age, geographic area and depth. During summer sea dragons remain in greater depths where the prey is more numerous and diverse. Spawning occurs by the end of winter when the female lays up to 300 eggs. Male stores the eggs under the skin on the inner side of its tail. The incubation period lasts up to 8 weeks, and the birth itself can last up to several days.


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