How Much Do You Know About The Knysna Seahorse?
Knysna is famous for its annual Oyster Festival, sporting events, wonderful seaside ambience, and its seahorses. Known as the most iconic inhabitant of the estuary, the Knysna Seahorse is a much-loved but sadly endangered member of the community. Several projects are in place to ensure their conservation and we are all hoping for success. The real question is, how much do you really know about the Knysna Seahorse? Here are some of our favourite facts;
Although seahorses may not look like the rest of their family, they do in fact breathe through gills, navigate using their fins, and hatch eggs categorising them as a type of fish. The Knysna Seahorse is also endemic to the Knysna Estuary meaning that is the only place in which it can be found. It is, unfortunately, due to this limited range, small population numbers, and habitat vulnerability that led to their endangered status. They are also the only known seahorse species in the world to be listed as at risk.
Masters of Disguise
Meet the chameleon of the seas! Given that seahorses are fairly slow swimmers, they are blessed with a fantastic camouflage ability to escape predators. Thanks to the hard, bony plates that cover their body, seahorses are able to blend in well with various textures found in their environments. Knysna Seahorses also manage to avoid predators thanks to the dense eelgrass in the estuary.
They Say Love Is Forever
And in this case, they really mean it! Male and female seahorses have a life-long courtship in which they perform an elaborate daily ‘dance’ ritual of entwining their tails, and may even change colours. While we’re on the topic of relationships, seahorses share the responsibility of reproduction – the female will deposit her eggs in the male’s kangaroo-like pouch and he carries them until hatching time.
One Long Meal
Not only are seahorses toothless but more surprisingly, stomachless. So, how do they survive? Seahorses use their mouths to suck on prey typically consisting of plankton and small crustaceans. However, given their lack of stomach, food passes through their bodies incredibly quickly meaning they are almost constantly eating.
If you would like to see these incredible creatures for yourself, come and visit us in Knysna! Here, you can learn more about conservation efforts such as the Knysna Basin Project while enjoying all our quaint seaside town has to offer. As Christmas is just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to plan one last escape to the jewel of the Garden Route so contact Knysna Hollow Country Estate and pack a bag. Don’t think, just do it!
Image Credits: Lisa Leslie. BeautifulNow, Two Oceans Aquarium, National Geographic