Stranger Things from the Bottom of the Bay: Seahorses

If watermen have a soft spot for a creature, it is for seahorses. Visitors and some residents are surprised to learn the Chesapeake Bay has a native sea horse. Even life-long residents rarely glimpse these delicate and charming animals. So, where are they?

With limited mobility, seahorses hide from predators in the grasses that grow on the Bay’s bottom. But make no assumptions, seahorses are not vegetarians. They are predators. Unlike faster, moving hunters, seahorses wait for their prey to pass by and effectively suck them up with their snout. How often do watermen cross paths with seahorses? More frequently than one might think. From the time crab pots are set in early spring, they become part of the Bay’s
ecosystem. Grasses, shrimp, and amphipods fall from the pots each time they are pulled aboard a workboat. Seahorses are frequently found among haul or with closer inspection they are spotted with their tails lightly wrapped around the thin wire pots. Even though seahorses are prized as ornamental art or aquarium fish, waterman toss them back into the
Bay. This seahorse took a different course. The crew of the Roughwater took him to join the breeding program at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland.

Capt. Rachel Dean
Solomons Island Heritage Tours