Tiny and delicate, pygmy seahorses survive by attaching to vibrant corals
where they become nearly invisible to both predators and researchers.
Now, biologists at the California Academy of Sciences have successfully
bred them in captivity for the first time. Finally, they're able to study
the seahorses' amazing act of camouflage up close.
This is a pygmy seahorse. It's one of the smallest species of seahorses
in the world,smaller than a paper clip. Camouflage is critical to their survival.
It's how they hide from predators. The seahorses are too small and too
fragile to make it on their own.
So unless they find a place that they fit in perfectly, they'll die.
So the pygmy seahorses spend their entire adult lives on a type of coral
called a sea fan.Orange pygmy seahorses live on orange sea fans.
Purple seahorses live on purple sea fans. But here's the mystery.
Do they search for a coral that matches their color,or do they change their
color to match the coral? To explore that question, you have to watch the
process unfold, and no one had ever done that until this year. Biologists
went to the Philippines and collected a mating pair of orange pygmy
seahorses from a sea fan 80 feet below the surface.
They rushed them back to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco,
and there, for the first time in an aquarium, the pygmy seahorses survived.
The scientists watched the male and female seahorses performing
their daily courtship dance. They saw baby seahorses pop out of their
father's brood pouch. The babies all started out a dull brown color.
So scientists wanted to know,what would happen if they provided a purple
sea fan to the offspring of orange seahorses? And they got their answer.
The babies turned purple. They grew calcified bumps called tubercles to match
the coral's texture. And there, they stayed.We humans tend to think of who
we are as mostly fixed. But in the ocean,
identity can be a fluid and mysterious thing.
1. What do Pygmy Seahorses look like?
2. Explain how they survive and avoid the predators?
What kind of coral do they live with?
3. What did the researchers unravel when they took home a pair of
Pygmy Seahorses? How was their question answered?