Wednesday 26 March 2014

Scuba Diving with Seahorses- 4 interesting facts

Scuba Diving with Sea Horses

As always, we like to keep our blogs current with what is happening at the Dive Sites here in Cyprus and over the past 12 months, we seem to be seeing more and more sea horses here around our Protaras Coastline. So, what do we need to know about Sea horses if we are Scuba Diving with them?

by Silverflight

Seahorse's Scientific Name is Hippocampus

The name Hippocampus comes from ancient Greek. Hippo translates as Horse while Kampos (campus) means Sea Monster. 

I know what you are thinking... a tiny little seahorse as a Sea Monster, where did that come from?

Well in Ancient Greek Mythology, the Hippo Kampos was a creature that sported a Horse's head and shoulders while its hindquarters were coiling, scaly and fish-like. According to the mythology, the Hippo Kampos was closely related to the Sea Goat, Capricorn.

Males carry the Babies

There is a myth that Seahorses mate for life. Unfortunately, this is not true and they will readily switch if the opportunity arises. However, they may court for several days before mating and this may involve swimming side by side while holding tails or holding onto the same blade of grass while dancing around it.

Eventually, when ready, the male will open up a pouch on the front of his tail to show his mate that it is empty and she will fill it with around 1500 eggs. The female departs and the male will carry the eggs for between 9 and 45 days.

Once they are ready, the seahorses emerge. There can be, on average, between 100 and 1000 seahorses, which are extremely small but fully formed. At this point, there is no more care from daddy; Just a cheerio, best of luck, where's my next mate?

A Seahorse Swims Vertically

Alongside Razor Fish, sea horses are the only species that swim vertically through the water column. This makes them very vulnerable in high winds and rough seas, as they tire easily.

They move through the water by rapidly fluttering a dorsal fin while using pectoral fins that are located behind the eyes to steer.

Maybe it is for this reason that the sea horse doesn't tend to travel far. They make territories for themselves and the males tend to stay within a square metre of this while females can travel up to 100m squared.

The Seahorse is very Sensitive to Stress

A seahorse is very sensitive to Stress and to light.

When you see a Seahorse while Scuba Diving, keep a good distance and make sure you are neutrally buoyant. I find the Zoom works extremely well to get good photographs of a seahorse.

Use natural light where possible, as strobes and dive lights do stress these little creatures. If you must use a light, try a red filter to create a softer more diffused light which they should be less sensitive to. 

NEVER try to touch it!!!

It is great to see sea horses thriving like this in Protaras and I hope we can all come together to help these vulnerable little creatures to survive the odds, as it is fantastic to be able to see them on a dive. Although, I did hear tales of the Ayia Napa sea monster just a few weeks ago and I wonder now, if this is the creature they were talking about and he has a Hyde Side

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