Seahorse Rodeo at the Dallas Aquarium is roping in visitors.
Round up your pardner and swing your pouch! For the stars of the Seahorse Rodeo at the Dallas Aquarium, life’s an underwater range. The exhibit, one of the Aquarium’s most popular ever, has delighted all ages since it opened in 2004.
So is a seahorse really a type of horse? No, but they bear an uncanny resemblance with their long snouted face and bony skeleton. Those tiny fins and gills reveal that seahorses are definitely fish…and the slowest-moving fish at that.
“They don’t use a lot of energy to move around,” says Rudy Ramos, seahorse keeper at the Dallas Aquarium. “Instead, they hover majestically.” Call ‘em ol’ poke-alongs.
Wranglin’ lots of species.
Plenty of species horse around at the Seahorse Rodeo. Potbellied seahorses, natives to Australia, are quite large (up to 12½ inches long) as seahorses go. Dwarf species from the Pacific are only about 3 centimeters long. Some are jet black, others green, yellow and red. “The more colorful seahorses live in deeper waters because they’ll get eaten at shallow levels,” explains Mr. Ramos.
Many survive because they camouflage to blend in with their surroundings. For example, some dwarf seahorses are red because they hang onto red deep water sponges.”
Besides Brazilian, banded and dragonface seahorses, you can bet yer brine shrimp (primary seahorse food) you’ll see some kin. Like the pipefish, a close relative with a streamlined body like a long pipe that hovers vertically; it is amazing to watch.
Yee-ha and a kangaroo too? Seahorses—make that male seahorses—carry their young in a pouch until they are born. Yep, the male gets pregnant! According to Mr. Ramos, “The male dances gracefully around the female and his colors change. When they mate, male and female swim upward and the female transfers her eggs to the male. Several weeks later, the male expels over 1,000 babies, each identical to its parents.”
Most of the world’s seahorses are now bred in captivity. Many breeds are nearly extinct because seahorses are used by the Chinese for traditional medicinal purposes. In places like Florida, their bodies are dried and sold as souvenirs. The exhibit explains that captivity breeding ensures healthier, disease-free seahorses.
Better hit the trail to the Seahorse Rodeo. It’s the only place to catch a herd of seahorses moseyin’ on down—and back up again—in their liquid corral.