Video: The Secrets of Seahorse Success

Sid is a freelance science journalist.

How does the seahorse, one of the slowest swimming fish in the sea, manage to capture its nimbler prey? In a word, stealth. Like most fish, seahorses nab their prey by slurping in the water surrounding their victims—a technique called suction feeding. But seahorses can effectively strike at prey only 1 millimeter or so in front of them, so they must approach within that distance (video) without disturbing the water so much that their quarry flees. Now, lab tests show that fluid disturbances just ahead of the snout of the dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae) are only one-fifth as large as those elsewhere around its head, researchers report online today in Nature Communications. Thus, the fish was able to approach within striking range of its prey 84% of the time. Once within striking distance, the not-quite-galloping gourmand snaps its neck forward in less than a millisecond to successfully capture a meal 94% of the time.

Posted in Plants & Animals