The Knysna seahorse
There are between 30 and 40 different kinds of seahorses in our oceans, but only five of these have been seen around the southern African coastline.
The Knysna seahorse (Hippocampus capensis) is the most well-known, and is the only seahorse that is in danger of extinction.
Knysna seahorses can be found only in the Knysna, Keurbooms and Swartvlei estuaries on the south coast of South Africa.
They are green to brown in colour and grow more or less12cm in length.
We normally find them at depths of 50cm to 8m, on sandy bottoms or around clumps of plants.
Seahorses have lived in our oceans for approximately 40 million years. Their heads are shaped like those of a horse, tails like a monkey’s and male seahorses have a ‘pouch’ similar to female kangaroos! The male seahorse gives birth to the offspring – the female lays her eggs in the male’s pouch and when they are ready, the babies hatch out of the pouch into the water!
Seahorses are mesmerizing to watch – you may be lucky to see male and female seahorses in a timid courtship dance or even a male seahorse giving birth!
Seahorses are fish
Seahorses breathe through gills just like fish, use their fins to move through the water and hatch from eggs. The biggest seahorse measures 35 centimetres from its head to the end of its tail and the tiniest seahorse is a mere 3 centimetres long!
Eyes like a chameleon
Seahorses swim upright, driven by its dorsal fin, while their small pectoral fins help to guide them as they move along. Seahorses feed on tiny fish and shellfish, which they suck into their mouths. The eyes of a seahorse are much similar to those of a chameleon and they can move independently, one eye would be looking for food and the other watching out for predators. Did you know that Seahorses can change in colour so that they blend into their environment?
Urban sprawl threatens Knysna seahorses
The biggest thread of the Knysna seahorse is humans. The development of towns puts the survival of the Knysna seahorses in danger. Houses and shopping centres are being built right on the water’s edge and polluted water flows directly into the estuaries where these seahorses live. Boats and people in the estuaries are also disturbing the unique habitat of these animals.
A costly cure
Every year about 20 million seahorses are being caught all over the world, for medicine or to be sold as ornaments. Some people believe that consuming dead seahorses will cure asthma, skin problems and baldness. Another one million seahorses are caught yearly to be displayed in homes and public aquariums.
We protect our seahorses
We have a strict law in South Africa that protects the Knysna seahorses. The law states that nobody is allowed to catch these seahorses or disturb them in their natural habitat. There are also firm laws about importing seahorses into South Africa from other countries in the world.
Brenton-on-Sea is a small coastal town that forms part of the greater Knysna municipal region. It is surrounded by several private and state owned Nature Reserves. This quaint little town on the border of the Indian Ocean offers properties for those who love nature and scenic sea views. Are you interested in buying a home or build your own on an empty plot? View all Sophie’s available properties online and contact her today on 082 572 2729 to reserve your special spot in this unique area!