Did you know there is an animal that lives underwater that has a head like a horse; a tail that curls around and hangs onto things like a monkey; a pouch for their babies like a kangaroo; and eyes that can swivel in opposite directions like a chameleon? They float up and down in the water like a mini-submarine. And have you ever had fun slurping your drink through a straw? They do that too. It is called a seahorse.
THE GENTLE AND AMAZING ~ SEAHORSE FAMILY ~ BY SPECIAL DESIGN
In this post, you will find a FREE article for kids taking a look at God’s exquisite designs in seahorses and giving glory to Him as Creator; why they are so tough and how scientists copy God’s designs to improve our technology… although their designs are never anywhere near as good. When I started investigating these fun little guys, I ended up with much more information than I could possibly fit on my article page without reducing it to size 4 font. :) And the French version of the article is even worse. :o Let me share some of these fun facts with you so you will see what I mean… and maybe you can find a way to discuss some of these cool extras with your child.
DID YOU KNOW: SEAHORSE ~ AMAZING FUN FACTS
- Seahorses are part of the syngnathidae (pronounced sing-nath-i-dee) family, which just means “fused jaw” (i.e. their mouth does not open) and belong to the genus Hippocampus. This fascinating family includes the leafy seadragon; weedy seadragon; ribboned seadragon; the pipehorse; and the pipefish.
- There are 53 species of seahorses currently recognised by CITES, however this figure is constantly under review as new species are still being discovered and as scientists learn more about them. That is why you might see different figures quoted for the number of species when you are travelling around the internet. Back in 2000, Kuiter (a seahorse scientist) estimated the total number will eventually settle down to be somewhere about 60 species.
- Did you know there is even a zebra seahorse with black and white stripes.
- Seahorses vary in size from about the size of a pea to the length of a ruler, that’s 5mm–30cm (½–12 inches).
- Seahorses are tiny camouflage experts, having been designed to be able to change colour to live among coral reefs, seagrass beds, seaweed, mangroves and plants in tropical and temperate shallow coastal habitats worldwide. Much to scientists’ surprise, they have also been found living 100 metres deep on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Because of their excellent camouflage ability, seahorses are difficult to find and classify. They blend in so well with the environment that God designed them for, that one pygmy seahorse species was only discovered when its host coral was being examined in a lab and the scientist happened to notice a pair of tiny seahorses. Can you imagine his surprise to see them hiding there? :o
- Seahorses can change colours. In my travels, I also discovered some USA scientists experimenting with removing pygmy seahorse babies from orange coloured coral (and orange coloured seahorse parents) and putting them onto purple coral, and guess what happened? The dull brown babies changed colour and grew bumps (tubercles) to exactly match their new coral. Check it out and see how brilliantly these gorgeous little guys are camouflaged… the adults are the size of a paper clip. God’s design is absolutely incredible. This ability is another reason why seahorses have outsmarted scientists trying to classify them.
- Seahorses can bend their horse-shaped heads only up or down.
- Seahorses normally swim upright, unless they are in a hurry. Seahorses use their dorsal fin on their back to swim forward, which beats at about 70 times per minute, the same speed as a hummingbird’s wings. They have two pectoral fins on their heads behind their gills which help stabilise them, and to hover and steer. Seahorses use an amazing and complex air bladder that God designed for them to move up and down in the water, by changing the volume of gas inside. It works a bit like a mini submarine. :)
- Seahorses have binocular vision and eyes that swivel independently (like chameleons). This helps them keep one eye on their food as well as a wary lookout for predators while they float through the water.
- Seahorses have no stomach, having to eat constantly to stay alive; but they have no need to swim very fast, as their food comes to them. They’re on clean up duty. Seahorses, seadragons and pipefish appear to hover innocently in the water, but have a long nose that they use like a drinking straw, that acts as a suction gun or vacuum cleaner that sucks in shrimp and small fish swimming past with a vacuum so strong that it makes an audible ‘click’. Slurp! Yum!
- If you stand up and spread your arms out, then turn around on the spot, the male seahorse lives within that area—in about one square metre of water, while the female’s range is up to 100 square metres around him. They generally don’t travel more than a few metres, but they can hitch a ride on floating seaweed and debris to travel long distances across the ocean if they need to.
- The seahorse’s main defence is their ability to remain motionless and to change colour to blend in, but they are also protected by tough bony armour that wraps around them in bands that slide over the top of each other, which can withstand enormous crushing force.
- Seahorses have prehensile tails (like a monkey or a possum) that can curl up on itself and hang onto things. Their tail spirals have been designed with a golden ratio, the signature of the Creator. Their tails are made of tiny armoured plates organised into squares (click to see diagram) which gives them better ‘grasping ability and crushing resistance’. Scientists have been inspired by God’s incredible design in seahorse tails for potential use in robotics, defence systems and biomedicine. This field of science – copying God’s original designs (often without giving Him the credit) – is called biomimicry.
- A baby seahorse is called a ‘fry’ and a group of seahorses is called a ‘herd’.
Males of the Sygnathidae family – seahorses, pipefish, pipehorses, seadragons – are the only known male animals in the world to become pregnant and give birth. Pipefish and seahorses carry their eggs on the abdomen covered by flaps or within a special pouch. Seadragons and pipehorses carry their eggs on their tail. There is ‘strict monogamy’ in most species, where the male accepts eggs from a single female.
Newborns range from approximately 2 to 20 mm; reach maturity between 4 months and 1 year; and live between 8 months to 4 years.
Seahorses begin their courtship with an elaborate dance, where the male and female swim gracefully side by side together every morning for several days with tails curled together and their heads down.
When Mrs Seahorse eventually carefully deposits her eggs into the male’s pouch, he fertilises them and incubates them up to 45 days. When the eggs are ready to hatch, the male’s body contorts with strong muscular contractions as he shoots up to 2,000 tiny live squirming babies out of his pouch ready to take on the world and survive on their own, while Dad often drops with exhaustion, ready for a nap when he’s finished. :)
SEAHORSE ~ ARTICLE FOR KIDS ~ FREE PRINTABLE (A4)
Okay, here is the actual article. You will see there is much that I had to leave out. As always, all of my articles are designed to give glory to God as Creator; this one comes with photos and is ready for you to download and print. Just click on the picture.
LAMINATE / BINDER
If you are using this article for your homeschool students you may like to laminate it to keep it looking nice and/or put it into a binder with some FREE Seahorse colouring pages, puzzles and craft activities (***coming soon***) to make your own DIY Activity Book for your kids. They’ll have fun choosing their own pages to put in it. :)
This article is also available in French *** coming soon ***
For my other sponsored children who are NOT ENGLISH or FRENCH speaking, I also send my articles to them but make sure I include all relevant text in the letter so that it gets translated. (Note: under the 2016 Compassion letter writing guidelines this may no longer be necessary, but I’ll leave that to you). If you would like to do this for your child, you are welcome to ‘copy and paste’ any of my text (scroll down to the bottom of this post). Add a short note and some hugs and kisses and your letter is done.
Seahorse ~ FREE colouring pages, puzzles, posters, crafts and creative ideas for kids *** coming soon ***
Dolphin ~ FREE colouring pages, puzzles, posters, crafts and creative ideas for kids
THE GENTLE AND AMAZING SEAHORSE FAMILY
Did you know there is an animal that lives underwater that has a head like a horse; a tail that curls around and hangs onto things like a monkey; a pouch for their babies like a kangaroo; and eyes that can swivel in opposite directions like a chameleon? And have you ever had fun slurping your drink through a straw? They do that too. It is called a seahorse.
Meet the syngnathidae (or “fused jaw”) family. They use their long nose like a straw or suction gun to gulp down small fish. Slurp! Yum! This fascinating family includes the leafy seadragon; weedy seadragon; ribboned seadragon; pipehorse; and pipefish.
Seahorses stand up when they swim, gently floating up and down in the water, using the fin on their back to swim forward and two fins on their head to hover and steer. If you stand up and spread your arms out, then turn around on the spot, Mr Seahorse lives within that area—in one square metre of water—while Mrs Seahorse stays close by. But they can travel if they need to by hitching a ride on floating seaweed. Some seahorses grow to 30cm (12 inches); others are as tiny as a pea (5mm or ½ inch long).
God designed seahorses to be tiny camouflage experts. They change colour and blend in so well that one tiny species was only discovered when the coral it was living in was being studied by a scientist in his laboratory. Imagine his surprise when he saw two tiny seahorses hiding. They are also protected by tough bony armour that wraps around them. Seahorse tails are actually square, made of tiny plates of armour that lock together to make them very strong and to help them grip slippery plants. Scientists have studied God’s clever design for use in robots, defence and biomedicine. This field of science where man copies God’s designs is called biomimicry; although our designs are never as good.
A baby seahorse is called a ‘fry’ and a group of seahorses is called a ‘herd’. The syngnathidae family are the only animals where the male gets pregnant. Seahorses begin their courtship with a graceful dance. When Mrs Seahorse carefully places her eggs into the male’s pouch, he looks after them until they are born. Other syngnathidae males carry their eggs on their bodies or tails. When Mr Seahorse has his babies, his body contorts wildly as he shoots out up to 2,000 baby seahorses into the water. And we already know that they will not look like whales or elephants, don’t we? They will look just like baby seahorses, as God created every living thing to reproduce after its own KIND (or family).
And if you saw a seahorse fossil, you would see that it looks much like seahorses alive today. Seahorses have always been seahorses. That’s because they were designed by a Creator who knew exactly what He was doing. They are tiny masterpieces of God’s living art gallery that we see all around us. They were made on day 5—with all the other animals that live in the ocean—in the very first week of history when the world was made. You can read all about it in your Bible in Genesis 1. Isn’t God clever to think up so many astonishing and fabulous designs? God created so many wonderful things for us to care for and enjoy. Things that are beautiful…. intricate… mysterious… perfect. To teach us about Him. To show us how magnificent, wise and powerful He is. So that we will worship Him. Jesus! God the Creator!
Information from creation.com ~ a fabulous site with lots of scientific information from a Biblical perspective. Written by Ph.D. scientists (previously evolutionists who were also indoctrinated by atheist universities) who have come to believe that God says what He means and means what He says. Got questions about God? This is where you will find real answers. Like me, they are all about reinforcing the authority of Scripture and giving glory to God as designer. We CAN and MUST take God’s Word seriously. God takes Himself seriously and expects us to take Him seriously, too.
And when you write to your sponsored child, don’t forget to tell them about the awesome Creator behind these magnificent mini submarine designs… :)
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