South Africa’s rarest: the Knysna seahorse

South Africa is a treasure chest of beautiful and magnificent creatures. Some even extremely rare, like the Knysna (or Cape) seahorse. These tiny ocean inhabitants are adorable, yes, but also play a vital role in the marine ecosystem. It is also the only seahorse in the world that’s endangered.

This specific species is found only in the Knysna, Keurbooms and Swartvlei estuaries on the southern coast of South Africa. They feed on small fish and shellfish, and one will look for food while the other watches out for predators.

What you might not have known, is that seahorses are fish. They breathe through gills, use their fins to move through the water and hatch from eggs. These little ones are also the chameleons of the sea – they can also change colour to blend into their environment! What makes them even more fascinating is that males have pouches (like female kangaroos). Male seahorses give birth to offspring after the female lays her eggs in the male’s pouch, from which the young ones hatch.

As with many other animals, seahorses around the world are victims of myth and legend and are often caught to be used for medicine, or sold as souvenirs for tourists. Fortunately, the South African law states that no one is allowed to catch these seahorses or disturb them in their natural environment. There are also strict laws about importing seahorses into South Africa from other parts of the world.

To find out how you can help by reporting sightings, get involved with projects or donate towards conservation and research, click here.

Source: Getaway Magazine