Pacific Seahorse
Hippocampus ingens

Physical Description

  • One of the largest of the 34 species of seahorses
  • Can reach 11.8 inches in length
  • Classic seahorse shape with a large dorsal fin
  • Can be gray, yellow, gold, reddish-maroon, or brown
  • Female larger than the male

Range

  • San Diego, California to Peru
  • Galapagos Islands

Habitat

  • Offshore waters
  • Often camouflaged with black coral and gorgonian coral
  • Depths of 33 feet or greater
  • Can live in shallower water, even occasionally at the surface, wrapped around seagrass and algae

Diet

  • Bottom-dwelling organisms such as mysid shrimp, plankton, and juvenile fish

Predators

  • Pacific yellowfin tuna and Bluefin tuna
  • Crabs, sea urchins, great blue herons, and rays
  • Heavily caught by humans as bycatch in the shrimp trawling industry

Interesting Facts

  • Seahorses lack teeth and suck in their prey through their tubelike mouth
  • The female seahorse deposits her eggs on the male, who incubates them for up to six weeks. He then gives birth to hundreds of tiny, live seahorses, which are miniature versions of adult seahorses. 
  • The Pacific seahorse is nocturnal, only feeding on yummy mysids at night.

Sources: MarineBio.org; UnderwaterPhotographyGuide; ProjectSeaHorse.org

Photo: Lorrie Blackard Friet

Want to see Pacific Seahorses and their relatives in person and even get the opportunity to feed them? Take a behind-the-scenes tour at Birch Aquarium! https://aquarium.ucsd.edu/experiences/programs/behind-scenes-tours

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