Seahorse dads actually get pregnant! I didn't know this until I visited the Birch Aquarium with my daughter's fifth-grade class last week. Besides my fascination with their parenting styles, I was mesmerized by their lyrical movements and colorful variety. Here are my picks for online seahorse watching from home, or classroom or library.
Dr. Ruediger Verhasselt, of Düsseldorf, Germany, has a digital camera and several tanks of seahorses, and has put them all to good use. His bilingual hobby site is home to nearly 200 extraordinary annotated photos, information on the biology of seahorses, and details for those interested in keeping or breeding seahorses. Verhaselt's English is excellent, and the occasional grammatical error easy to overlook.
Although you can't visit the Saving Seahorses exhibit in Monterey, California anymore, its virtual counterpart lives on . "With horselike heads and kangaroo-like pouches, seahorses don't look much like fish. But look again they breathe through gills and have tiny fins for swimming." Excellent writing and great photos are a winning combination at Saving Seahorses. Topics to explore include why seahorses are imperiled and what conservation efforts are under way. You'll find seahorse e-cards on the Seahorse Saviors page.
Amanda Vincent, a marine biologist dedicated to the conservation of the seahorse, is the focus of this PBS site. "No one knows exactly how many seahorses there are in the world. Because of this, and because of the high demand for the seahorse, conservationists are working hard to ensure this magical fish has a future." All four site sections are worth visiting: the Vincent interview, Hot Science (for seahorse basics), Roundup (the photo gallery), and Superdads (find out which animal dads -- besides the seahorse are involved in parenting offspring.)
Everything you need for your school report on seahorses can be found at Project Seahorse. From "What do seahorses look like?" to questions about seahorse conservation, this single page Q&A covers all the basics. Learn how male seahorses become pregnant and carry their offspring to term in their pouch; where seahorses are found; and how seahorses rely on camouflage to capture prey and avoid predators.
Both the science and art of the seahorse are addressed at my pick-of-the-day site from San Diego's Birch Aquarium. Start your visit with a history lesson on early efforts to learn about the seahorse. Continue with seahorse biology, a look at the Gasterosteiformes family tree, and the excellent Threats section. The most unique seahorse clicks are the winning entries from the seahorse poetry contest and the gallery of decorative items found under Inspiration. My favorite click is Conservation, where you can watch a video of Neptune's Nursery, where Birch is propagating seahorses for distribution to other marine facilities.