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Lined Seahorse

Hippocampus erectus

You probably didn’t have to use the key to figure out what this fish was. Seahorses are unmistakable. We catch one species – the lined seahorse – in the saltiest parts of the estuary around New York City. While it is usually a dull gray or brown in color, this fish makes up for its drab color with other interesting features.

Like its relative the pipefish, a seahorse uses its long snout and tiny mouth to suck up its meals of small crustaceans. Male seahorses have a pouch on their bellies in which they incubate eggs laid by the females.

Unlike the pipefish, the seahorse has no caudal fin. It swims with rippling movements of its dorsal fin. Its tail is prehensile; the seahorse uses it to hold onto plant stems and other objects at the bottom of the estuary. Lined seahorses are seldom more than five inches long.