Slow Swimmers… Effective Predators

CC Image from Google

CC Image from Google

By: Maddie G.

The sea horse is known as being “one of the slowest swimmers on the planet” because of its structure. The overall shape of its body, with its unique bent necks and long-snouted heads, which make them resemble horses, include a lack of a tail fin making them slow swimmers. They don’t swim very much in general; rather they tend to anchor themselves to surfaces, such as sea grass. However, the head shape of this creature still makes it an effective predator of its kind. Sea horses feed on microscopic shrimplike crustaceans known as copepods. Many marine animals like to eat copepods, so over time, these crustaceans have evolved to some escape behavior from surrounding predators; they’re very sensitive to any movement or disturbances in the water. Once copepods detect these disturbances, they can swim distances of more than 500 times their body length per second. Surprisingly, even though sea horses are slow swimmers, they are very effective at capturing fast-swimming prey; they use their arched necks as springs to pivot their heads forward and catch prey. This may limit the distance at which they can seize their food, but sea horses can get close enough to copepods to capture them without making any disturbances in the water. (Read more…)

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