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Seahorses

Seahorses (scientifically known as hippocampus since the 1570s) can be found in all oceans. In ancient Greece, seahorses were called "hippocampus", which in Greek mythology means a sea monster. Although seahorses can move their eyes independently - so they can look forward and backward at the same time - we don't think that our seahorses are monsters.

Seahorses feed primarily on plankton that swims in the seawater. They generally hold on to sea grass with their tail to avoid drifting away with the current. Here they wait for food to pass by and eat it. Also small crabs or shrimps are on the seahorses' menu. 

The head of the seahorses is more reminiscent of a horse, but the rest of the body is more like a worm. As you might guess, these sea creatures take their name from their outward appearance. 

The seahorses live in the warmer seas such as around South Australia and New Zealand, where most of them live. So far there are over 42 recognised species, varying in size, colour and habitat.


In Europe, seahorses can be found in the Mediterranean, on the European Atlantic coast and around the Canary Islands. The long-footed seahorse and the short-footed seahorse are the main species living here. 

The seahorse is very popular among many of our visitors and has also made it onto the coat of arms of the municipality of Timmendorfer Strand in Schleswig Holstein. 
Unfortunately seahorses are threatened with extinction due to the increasing pollution and destruction of their natural habitat. In addition, around 150 million seahorses are caught and killed each year for use in traditional Asian medicine.

Big-belly seahorse

SEA LIFE Berlin, Seahorses

Short-snouted seahorse

SEA LIFE Berlin, Seahorses
Kurzschnaeuziges Seepferdchen

How do seahorses get ahead?

In order to swim, a seahorse strikes with its dorsal fin between 30 and 70 times a second. Often they can also drift with the ocean current. In order not to swim out of place, seahorses use their tail to hold on to corals, seaweeds and other vegetation and rocks on the seabed.

6417 Big Bellied Seahorse 2

Seahorses are always hungry!

A seahorse has to eat 30 to 50 times a day to avoid starvation. This is because the food they eat passes through their digestive tract very quickly, so they are constantly hungry. Therefore they are busy eating most of the day and do not swim around much.

6416 Big Bellied Seahorse

Who carries the babies?

Unlike most animals and sea creatures, the males of seahorses give birth to their young. Although the female produces the eggs, they are given to the male. Before mating, the seahorses perform a fascinating courtship dance in the sea grass. Before that, the pair swims next to each other with their tails raked into each other. It usually takes only 10 - 12 days until the seahorses are born.