little things

Little Things in the ocean are exciting too

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I often wonder, is it a lack of education, or a lack of interest? When I take people diving I always like to show them the signs for the marine life we are likely to encounter. Yet it seems that usually, whenever I mention frogfish or nudibranchs I am met with looks of confusion. Other times I show people a small nudibranch and they hover 5ft above me and nod giving me the ok signal. Meanwhile, I know full well there is no way they really saw the tiny creature from that far away. It all makes me wonder; is it weird to like the little things?

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It Not Just Nudis

While guiding I also like to show people more common creatures that are easy to glance over. One of my favourites being the Panamic Barnacle Blenny, a small goggly-eyed fish that lives in holes in the reef. (See Video Above) I also point out Star of David Urchins, Christmas tree worms, and other small goodies on our reefs. Yet I never know if I’m going to get a ‘wow face’ or an ‘oh that’s nice face’.

Personally, I love discovering these little, hidden treasures. No matter what face I get underwater, once we return to the surface the main excitement always falls first and foremost to the big guys. The rays, the turtles and the sharks. Not that I don’t enjoy these beautiful animals, but they always take precedence over the little guys. But why? Isn’t a neon coloured sea slug who can survive through photosynthesis just as interesting?

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There Are Some Exceptions

When it comes to seahorses there is always excitement. Everyone knows what a seahorse is and everyone wants to see one. Divers love them and they will oftentimes take the lead in after-dive conversations. So what makes them different from the other little guys? Is it because they seem so mythical? Or are they just well known?

Some Say The Little Things are Boring

I’ve met plenty of dive professionals who find even seahorses boring. Originally, I would just look at them like they were crazy. However, I have come to understand why they believe this, though I don’t think I will ever agree. When you see a large animal it’s almost always doing something, even if it’s just swimming. While, in contrast, the little things seem to be just sitting there, not moving or really doing anything perceivable. 

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Perceivable being the keyword. Frogfish and even barnacles are always doing something, though you don’t always see it. It takes good buoyancy and patience to be able to observe the miniature world. A set of good eyes or a magnifying glass doesn’t hurt either. If you watch closely you can see the tentacle-like arm of a barnacle shooting out and capturing food before pulling it back into its mouth. You just need to take the time to look.

Small Creatures are Exciting

The first part of the excitement is actually finding and seeing these little animals. It is easy to spot an animal that is the same size as you but its another story entirely to find a sea slug that’s less than 1cm in length. After the initial sense of accomplishment, there is admiration and curiosity. Admiration for an organism so small to live in an ocean so big, and fascination for how strange and unique these creatures are.

In my experience, it is the little things that are the most colourful, and the most complex. Each of them has a unique strategy to survive, whether it be camouflage, venom, or mimicry. Oftentimes they also hunt differently than large marine organism as well. For example, the frogfish uses a lure to entice its prey.

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The Next Time You Dive

I implore you, that on your next dive or snorkel trip, that you try to enjoy the little things. Though they may not be as apparently interesting as finding a large animal, they are just as mesmerizing. Who knows, you may look into a crevice and find two crabs having a boxing match, or you may look into a coral and find a seahorse blending almost seamlessly into the branches. I implore you to find out more. The next time you find a new creature, or even familiar one, find out what it is. Read about that animal, how it lives and survives, and it will amaze you all the more.

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Let Others Know

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seahorses are cute

What you don’t know about Seahorses

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Ranelle Ivens

SITE AUTHOR

Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology. [supsystic-social-sharing id=’2′] [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”2_3″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text (main post content)” module_class=”dd-post-content” _builder_version=”3.0.92″ text_font=”Lato||||” text_font_size=”15″ text_text_color=”#04493e” text_line_height=”1.4em” custom_padding=”60px|||”]

Did you know that seahorses have a crazy mad but beautiful mating ritual? What about that when giving birth seahorses defy all gender norms? The seahorse is also a super deadly animal believe it or not, but also very fragile! This animal is one of the most fascinating creatures I have come across. It’s so strange and weird and beautiful that I find them absolutely captivating. Which is exactly why I want to share all this cool information  with you.

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First the Basics

The first thing you need to know about seahorses is that they are a fish. Yes, I know, they are weird shaped and don’t look at all like a normal fish but those crazy scientists classified them as fish so here we are. Next, is how they fit into the food chain. Shrimp, plankton and itty bitty fishies are the seahorse’s snack of choice.  They also eat tiny crustaceans which is only fair as crustaceans are also their only true predator. Crabs are about the sole animals that go out and hunt for seahorses to eat. However, the seahorse does  have other predators such as rays, tuna, and seabirds. Each of these tend to eat them more by accident or mistake though, they haven’t been recorded to actively hunt for seahorses.

The habitat of the seahorse may be one reason they don’t have many predators. Seahorses live on corals and in sea grasses. This is because they can easily  grab onto grasses and coral structures. In case you didn’t  know, seahorses are awful swimmers. that’s why they need to stay in one spot or small area. Seahorses have also developed wicked camouflage that allows them to blend into their surroundings. Their camo skills are so good that some seahorses can even change colors to blend into different colored reefs.

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That Crazy Mad but Beautiful Mating Ritual

Ever dream about old fashion love? Courtship, romantic dancing, good morning snuggles or a true love that lasts forever? Well, seahorses don’t just dream it, they live it. It begins once two seahorses find each other and decide to give it a try. They first go on a few dates. These dates usually happen in the morning when the two meet up and dance. Wait, wait, wait, dance? Yep, dancing. Seahorses have what’s called a prehensile tail (like monkeys), which they use to hold on to each other. Then they swim about in fancy circles and patterns  and even change colours. The seahorses will meet every morning for several days before they will ‘do the deed.’

Once they’ve conceived, the seahorses continue to meet every morning where they wrap around each other for hugs and snuggles. Starting to wish your significant other was just like a seahorse? Well, maybe don’t wish too hard. Many people believe that seahorses mate for life. This can be true but it is more correct to say that they breed with a singular partner for one breeding season. Sorry to burst you bubble, I really hoped it was love for life too. On the bright side, seahorses are totally monogamous during the breeding season which means they are faithful and don’t cheat on each other!

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Soooo Many Babies!

I don’t know about you but when I think of having more than two kids I feel a little stressed! Try having up to a 1000 or more babies… in one delivery! As a female That just sounds too painful, but its not the female you should feel sorry for, it’s the male. Confused? That’s okay not everyone knows that it is the male seahorse that gets pregnant and gives live birth. Talk about dad and husband of the year! Not only do seahorses have tons of babies in one pregnancy they have lots of pregnancies too! Sometimes the male will give birth in the morning and then be pregnant again by that evening! Some of those guys have it easier than others though. Depending on the species pregnancies can last anywhere from 9-45 days.

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One of the deadliest animals in the sea, nay, the world

The seahorse!? What about lions and tigers and bears (Oh My!)? Well sure these guys are pretty scary but that doesn’t mean they are the deadliest! These large animals don’t catch too many of the animals they hunt, most, less than 50%. Meanwhile, the seahorse traps and kills over 90% of it’s prey. What’s even more amazing is that the they catch their prey without teeth! Seahorses don’t even have teeth. Instead, the seahorse uses its long snout like a straw and sucks up tiny plankton and other yummy treats.

Want to know what’s even more crazy about seahorses? They eat almost all day, and they don’t even get fat. sometimes I wish I could eat all day and not get fat. Then I remember that the seahorse needs to eat all day to stay alive. This is because they have no stomach. Not having a stomach means that seahorses are never full, and due to heir super fast metabolism they need to keep eating continuously!

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Sooo Weird, but Sooo Cool

Yes, after reading all these awesome facts you probably think that these animals are super weird. But, that is exactly why I love them, that and they are super cute! You might even want to see one in real life! If that’s the  case I swish you luck, they can be really tricky to find, especially because they are endangered. This has a lot to do with humans. Many people like to buy dead seahorses as decorations… The people that sell them will often take them from the wild. That’s right! That now means there is a sad seahorse mate out there missing it’s lover… So don’t be that guy!

Another reason seahorses are endangered is the same problem most animals on the planet face. Habitat reduction. Seahorses live on corals and sea grasses both of with are typically found in shallower water near the mainland and islands. However, where there is land there is human activity and pollution. Garbage and toxins leak into the sea everyday by the tons… this makes seahorses vulnerable as it kills the corals and other vital parts of the ecosystem.

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How to Help Seahorses

  • Reduce pollution! Use earth friendly products, car pool, walk, cut out single use plastics!
  • If you are a diver practice good buoyancy,especially around corals!
  • Help research with the research by reporting seahorse sightings to Project Seahorse (they even have a handy app to make life easier)
  • Stop using sunscreens that contain OXYBENZONE! This chemical kills corals and causes cancer in humans. Plus there are way better alternatives.

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