Seahorses are truly unique, and not just because of their unusual equine shape. Unlike most other fish, they are monogamous and mate for life. Rarer still, they are among the only animal species on Earth in which the male bears the unborn young.
Seahorses are a genus (Hippocampus) of fish belonging to the family Syngnathidae, which also includes pipefish and leafy sea dragons. There are over 32 species of seahorse, mainly found in shallow tropical and temperate waters throughout the world. They prefer to live in sheltered areas such as sea grass beds, coral reefs, or mangroves. Colonies have been found in European waters such as the Thames Estuary. From North America down to South America there are approximately four species, ranging from very small in size (dwarf seahorses are only about an inch long) to those much larger, found off the Pacific Coast of Central America (the foot-long Hippocampus ingens). Hippocampus erectus are larger seahorses found anywhere from Nova Scotia down to around Uruguay. These fish form territories, with males staying in about one square meter of their habitat while females range about one hundred times that area. They bob around in sea grass meadows, mangrove stands, and coral reefs where they are camouflaged by murky brown and grey patterns that blend into the sea grass backgrounds. During social moments or in unusual surroundings, seahorses turn bright colors.