In late 2017, the Aquarium ended the nearly decade-long run of the Seahorses: Beyond Imagination temporary exhibit on the A-level of the River Journey building. But now, seahorse fans have cause for celebration with the reappearance of these curly-tailed syngnathids in the Ocean Journey building’s Boneless Beauties gallery.
While seahorses are vertebrates – and as such, are not boneless – they were a good fit as tank mates for the exhibit’s main focus: about 40 Feather Duster Worms (Sabella sp.)
“Our visitors really missed seeing seahorses, so the decision was made to change the lobster/lionfish exhibit to a seahorse tank,” said Aquarist Sharyl Crossley. “As an invertebrate specialist, I like to think of it as a feather Duster Tube Worm exhibit with seahorses on the side,” she added wryly.
20 Lined Seahorses (Hippocampus erectus) and five Longsnout Seahorses (Hippocampus reidi) can now be seen in the exhibit, which is located next to the main dive show window. Peppermint Shrimp and a lone marine Pipehorse (subfamily Hippocampinae) also join them.
Crossley explains that it’s important to be careful what animals are kept with seahorses because they are easily out competed for food and because they like to hold on to things, which can cause them to be stung or injured by other invertebrates like anemones and crabs.
The reappearance of seahorses on the exhibit path should not only satisfy fans who have been missing them but add an important facet to the ecological story communicated to guests during their Aquarium visit, she says.
“Seahorses have an important conservation story, and they are very charismatic,” she says. “I think they are a great species to get peoples’ attention and hopefully spark some curiosity about protecting the places where seahorses live.”