The Surprising Seahorse and Backward Breeding

A spell back, I mentioned that Lisa Myworries from the Darwin Ranch took some time to visit the beach and bring back seashells and sand dollars. Roland Meadows and I were in town yesterday to get a few things. Lisa and other hands from the ranch arrived to get some supplies.

We talked for a while and I learned that she likes to do snorkeling, was amazed by the seahorse. She saw a few that had anchored themselves to objects by their tails, and wondered why these things are considered a kind of fish in the first place.

The seahorse does not look like a fish. It has some unusual features such as how the male carries the eggs, which is backward to other creatures.
Seahorse, Unsplash / David Clode
Would you do me the honor of being monogamous throughout the breeding season?

Actually looking like a typical fish is not a requirement to be classified as one. The seahorse has a resemblance to a horse, especially its head. They are not strong swimmers, but use that tail to hitch a ride or stay in place. One of the strangest traits (I wonder if this is an example of the Creator's pranks on naturalists) is that the female deposits the eggs in the male, who superintends them until hatching. Quite a few are hatched, but they are good eats for other critters. Adult seahorses...not so much.

Ancient sailing lore tells of the dreaded hippocampus, or “horse sea monster.” When it raised its fearsome head above the waves, sailors recoiled in terror. The legendary beast’s namesake, a horrifying chimera with a horse’s head, a chameleon’s eyes, a lobster’s armor, and a monkey’s tail, still lurks in the oceans today. But sailors can sleep easy—the real hippocampus is only a few inches long.

As ugly as a horse-chameleon-lobster-monkeyfish might sound, this bizarre animal is not really a nightmare. On the contrary, we admire its grace and beauty, and we know it by a gentler name—seahorse.

You can read it all or listen to the audio by my favorite reader at "Magnificent Monsters."