THE GIANT SEAHORSE (Hippocampus ingens)
Also called the Pacific Seahorse, it is the only species of seahorse found in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and its only oceanic island population is centred around the isolated Galapagos Islands. They prefer to inhabit sub-tidal environments, rarely exceeding 60 metres in depth, such as coral and rocky reefs, mangroves, and segrass meadows.
By seahorse standards, Ingens reaches a large 12-19 cms in height, but they have been known to reach an almost rideable 30 cm. They come in a wide variety of colours, including green, brown, maroon, grey, and yellow. Like all seahorses, they have a prehensile tail, skin (instead of scales), a digestive tract with a stomach, no teeth, and the ability to move each eye independently of the other.
Female seahorses deposit their eggs in a brood pouch on the male, who will then fertilise the egg and seal it in the pouch to develop. The salinity of the water in the pouch changes so as to acclimatise the growing young to the outside sea. Amazingly, each male can brood up to 2,000 eggs at a time, and do so multiple times per year. After 14 days, the male expels the young one at a time, taking days. After that, no doubt, he sits down, has a cigar and vows never to do it again…