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Discovery Magazine 7/1/2001

The Horses of the Sea: Hippocampus

by  Trae Bailey

Can you imagine a fish that looks like a horse and swims like a submarine? God did just that when He designed the sea horse. Have you ever seen a horse in the sea? These horses do not gallop or “neh” or even ride the dusty trail into the sunset. The seahorse swims leisurely about the kelp meadows of the sea.

Scientist gave this ocean “equine” the name Hippocampus, which comes from the Greek words hippo meaning “horse” and Campus meaning “sea creature.” This creature is really a fish, the only reason it is called a horse is because of its horse-shaped head. It has a long snout and prominent eyes that can move independently of one another. Usually, the sea horse grows to be around five inches long. That’s about the length of your pencil.

One interesting thing about the sea horse is the way that it swims. The sea horse moves about in an upright position propelling itself through the water with its small fins. It can go up and down and maintain its balance in the water by alternating the gas within its swim bladder. This is the same concept used by the U.S. Navy to balance, submerge, and surface its submarines. Also interesting is the fact that sea horses swim so leisurely that they have gained the reputation of being the slowest fish in the ocean. This could be bad for the sea horse when predators come over for dinner. God, however, gave the sea horse the ability to escape danger by being a master of camouflage. If a sea horse ever senses danger it will blend into the rocks, seaweed, or sand so that its enemies cannot see it.

Another amazing feature of sea horses is that the male sea horse deposits eggs into a pouch on the belly of the male. For about two weeks the male carries the eggs, and then his special pouch opens and releases the young into the water. Can you imagine your dad carrying a baby for two weeks?

God is so creative! He thought up millions of different types of animals, insects, and other living creatures. The ocean is the home of some of the most amazing and sometimes even strange looking creatures. From the sky to the deepest depths of the ocean we can see the handiwork of our Creator… “The fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee” (Job 12:8).



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