My students and I found more seahorses on this years trip into the Gulf than we have on previous trips over the last few years. The variety of shapes, colors, and size was pretty amazing too.
I don't pretend to be a seahorse taxonomist, but I think the seahorse above is a lined seahorse, H. erectus.
It was pretty big compared to most of our seahorse round up. Of course, this time of year, everything is a baby out there in the grass, so you expect some dramatic variation in size.
The seahorse above and the one below are notable for their small size AND the fact that both males seem to be well along in incubating the female's eggs in their pouches.
Despite the dramatic difference in color, I think these two are the same species ... perhaps a dwarf seahorse?
Pregnant male seahorses were released by the way.
We did bring back a nonpreggars pony and it is living in our aquarium for just a few weeks until everything gets released near the end of the school year ... (ABOUT 15 SCHOOL DAYS FROM NOW ... WOOHOO!)
Where you find seahorses, you find pipefish. This is a beautiful specimen with what appears to be a pouch, so we let this one go also.
Pipefish are closely related to seahorses ... almost as if you took a seahorse and straightened him out.
I wasn't keeping an accurate count, but I think we spotted about 8 seahorses between the two trips. Seahorses are incredibly hard to find in the seaweed and grass that comes up in the net, so finding 8 means we were probably close to a lot more that went back overboard ...undiscovered ...with the net debris.
You can tell who really wants to find a seahorse by watching the kids when the net comes aboard and spills it's wonders on to the boat deck.
For the most part, you find a seahorse by sticking a handful of seaweed close to your face and slowly searching for a well camouflaged and probably small seahorse entwined among the "branches" of the seaweed.
The kid with his nose in the gracilaria is a serious seahorse hunter. The kid hurridly tossing it out of the boat is not.
When a seahorse is discovered on these trips, whether it is the first one or the fifth one, it generates lots of excitement.
(Kinda like seeing dolphins ... that should always excite you even if you see them often)
Most kids don't seem to see a seahorse as a fish, so you have to remind them constantly to get it in the water and not pass it around like a hermit crab or a sand dollar.
We had the same issue with the batfish, but that's another story ... and a video.