Just a few centimetres long, a spiny seahorse is hard to spot underwater. At the edge of a seagrass bed, it clings with its tail to a blade of grass and sways in the rhythm of the current.
Although widespread, the spiny seahorse is a rare and vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. Among other seahorse species, e.g. Knysna seahorse (Hippocampus capensis), dried Hippocampus histrix is used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Seahorses are masters of camouflage. Sucking in passing prey with its long snout, the spiny seahorse feeds on small crustaceans and other planctonic organisms. The fused jaws gave the family name Syngnathidae. Unusually, it’s the male seahorse that breeds the fertilized eggs.
Seahorses are shy and sensible. Flash photography should be minimised, and handling of seahorses refrained from, as with all wildlife: Don’t touch anything underwater.