In our Caribbean waters, only two species of seahorses are found: the Longsnout Seahorse Hippocampus reidi and Lined Seahorse, Hippocaumpus erectus. To the best of our knowledge, we have no confirmed reports of Lined Seahorses on Saba. If this page intrigues you, have a look at From Our Travels...Seahorses and Their Relatives.
©diagram used with permission
The creature’s ornate body style is not without purpose. The independently moving eyes help locate elusive shrimp and crabs. Lacking teeth and a stomach, the seahorse consumes vast amounts of live food to compensate for its rapid and inefficient digestive system. The long tubular snout provides suction for ingesting the crustaceans. The trademark prehensile tail is used as an anchor and for grasping the partner during mating. The seahorse is capable of making "clicking" sounds by moving two parts of its skull. Although intense "clicking" is noted during courtship, scientists believe color changing is the primary means of communication among seahorses.The ear-like fins below the gills are used for steering and stability with only the dorsal fin used for propulsion. Thus, the seahorse is a relatively slow mover and must depend on its mastery of disguise to avoid becoming prey. Divers and predators alike find it difficult to find this fish that has the ability to change color to mimic its surroundings. It can grow skin filaments to imitate algal fronds. As if that wasn’t enough, encrusting organisms settle on its skin providing yet more camouflage.
Rare and elusive, the Longsnout Seahorse is a member of the Pipefish and Seahorse family (Syngnathidae). The black one pictured here was found in 78 feet of water at Hot Springs, one of our Ladder Bay sites, holding fast to a Brilliant Sea Finger. As you can see from the photos below, the Longsnout Seahorse varies in color from yellow to reddish orange, brown or black and is distinguished from its cousin, the Lined Seahorse, by the black spots on its head and body. Saba's Ladder Bay dive sites are situated on the leeward side of the island and range in depth from 20 to 90 feet. To the best of our knowledge, only the Longsnout Seahorse has been seen in Saba waters.
for additional images, check out
Return to Saba Images & Beyond
All images ©John Magor Photography and Sea Saba Dive Center or as otherwise noted. No image to be used for any purpose or in any format without permission. Quality prints on archive standard paper available $30-$50, size dependent. High resolution digital images on a contract basis only. Contact us for permission and procedures.
This page last updated on 04/20/2006
Lynn's first seahorse...
Ask most divers and they can probably tell you when and where they saw their first seahorse. For me it was on Saba at Shark Shoals. Normally we find seahorses fairly shallow and generally on a vertical plane of coral or a seawhip. But this first sighting was all the more special as it was in mid-water during a safety stop. As I watched this floaty bit of red I fantasized "now how cool would that be if it was a baby seahorse?" I cupped my hands to enclose the red bit and when I slowly opened them I could not have been more delighted; a tiny red seahorse, about 1 cm high, was in my hands. I re-cupped my hands and swam to the platform of the Alexis M..."John, get me a bucket!" What I'll truly never forget is that 5 of the divers were so comfortable on the sundeck of the boat they couldn't be bothered to come to the main deck for a look...so after a few minutes of studying my first Hippocampus reidi, I simply un-cupped my hands to release him back to the blue.
Seahorses and the start of Sea & Learn on Saba...
In 1999, Saba experienced Hurricane Lenny, a powerful storm that rocked our world in a number of ways. Oddly, it was only a few months after this storm that we had a great increase in the amount of seahorse sightings. Seahorses are considered a telltale species, an indicator of the reef's health. As hurricanes are a natural phenomenon, scientists consider them a natural factor in the cycle of a reef. Some mortalities of the reef inhabitants will result from heavy seas but this also serves to clean out weaker corals and marine life, with healthier species dominating.
In the summer of 2000, Dr. Heather Hall was en route from a holiday on the island of Nevis. She spent just one day diving with Sea Saba. Upon checking out, I noticed she was a marine biologist. My intrigue from this first conversation about seahorses and their seeming abundance after a storm spawned the concept of Sea & Learn on Saba. My first attempt at coordinating nature experts to give talks on Saba didn't materialize until 2003. Since then, a formal foundation with a board has allowed us to expand the program to what it is today.
Dr. Heather Hall is a well-known seahorse expert, co-author of Seahorses, An Identification guide to the world’s species and their conservation* and she is on the board of Project Seahorse, an international program to monitor and protect the world's population of seahorses. After John and I received a copy of the book, our intrigue for these creatures blossomed. Our "Seahorses and Their Relatives" page of this sight shows the amazing colors, shapes and sizes to be seen.
*Seahorses, an identification guide to the world’s species and their conservation was co-written by Sara A. Lourie, Amanda CJ Vincent and Heather J. Hall. The comprehensive guide covers the biology of the animal but also the conservation concerns, an identification guide and of course, plenty of great photos: ISBN 0-9534693-0-1.
Back to our Home Page
© Use of any image or text
prohibited without the expressed permission of:
+599-416-2246 - phone