|Standing up straight is relative |
when you are a seahorse
photo: Peter Ryngaert, Project Seahorse
Guylian Seahorses of the World 2005
Seahorses are master hunters, catching prey on over 90% of attacks. Who knew?
Seahorses are ambush predators, meaning they sit still and pretend to be vegetation until a suitable prey – in their case, tiny copepods and other shrimp-like crustaceans – swims by, and then they attack with a lightning-fast strike.
To be so effective, a sit-around-and-wait predator must be sneaky and stealthy, and seahorses excel at hiding in plain sight.
Although they are slow swimmers, according to marine biologist Brad Gemmell, at the University of Texas at Austin, seahorses "...tend to anchor themselves to surfaces like seagrass with their prehensile tails." (Prehensile tails, like those of some monkeys and possums, can grasp items, like branches or coral.)
So they are slow swimmers, and they prefer to attach themselves to a rock or grass. Their prey, the copepods, are super-sensitive to motion in the ocean and can swim away at a speed equivalent to a 6-foot human swimming 2,000 miles per hour. How do the seahorses catch them?