sea shellsea shellNot Just for Kids

I was wearing my seahorse necklace when my friend asked, "Are seahorses real?"

First I thought she had been in the sun too long. Of course seahorses are real! Thinking again, I realized that there are many stories that confuse people about the seahorse.

The myths began a long time ago. Storytellers say the seahorse led the god Neptune's sea chariot and also pulled several mythological princes. In 77ad, before "Rogaine," Pliny (a famous Roman) made up a recipe of seahorse ashes, lard and vinegar to cure baldness.

Even when people learned other things weren't true, like a flat world and a moon of cheese, silly seahorse stories stayed around. In the mid 1500s, a historian named Olaus Magnus said the seahorse "is oft seen to have a head like a horse, and to neigh; but his feet and hoof are cloven like a cow's and he feeds both on the land and sea."

Like Olaus, do you think seahorses neigh like a horse? Do you think they have feet like a cow's?

Here's something closer: Do you know if the seahorse lives in the Chesapeake Bay?

Yes, they do! There are a hundred known species of seahorses, and hippocampus erectus, the lined seahorse, lives in the Bay. But even this scientific name isn't exactly right: Hippos means "horse," and kampos means "monster."seahorse

Though hippocampus erectus is actually a fish, it has characteristics of a horse, chameleon, monkey, armadillo and kangaroo. The seahorse has no stomach, but it does have armor-like skin. Its eyes move by themselves (not both together, as ours do). This way the seahorse can see fish, skates, rays or sharks.

The seahorse has no weapons. A skunk has an odor or a shark has sharp teeth, but seahorses can hide themselves well. Like chameleons, they change color when they get excited or tired. After giving birth, the male often turns pale because he is so tired.

No, that's not a typo. The dad has baby seahorses, not the mom.

Seahorses also drift in the water, letting the current move them. They wind their curly tails around blades of grass they bump into, like monkeys curling their tails around tree branches.

Seahorses only talk with other seahorses. About a hundred years ago, an artist was sketching seahorses in two different containers when, "Suddenly a sharp, little snapping voice called at short and regular intervals from one container, followed by a response from another."

Seahorses create noise by lifting up their head, making vibrations that are made bigger by their air bladder. We don't know what they could be telling each other. Maybe they're saying that humans could learn a lesson from the peacefulness of the seahorse.


- Amy Ellsworth was a New Bay Times intern in 1994. She now works in New York.

Kids Calendar

butterflySee Beauty and the Beast June 30 & July 1 (10:30am & 2pm)-Creativity and enthusiasm meet learning w/Theatre IV, one of the nation's best educational theaters. Beauty and the Beast is hosted by Calvert County Public Libraries is for kids ages 5 to 12 Tues. morning at Prince Frederick Rescue Squad; afternoon at Dunkirk Fire Department Wed. morning at Northeast Community Center; afternoon at Southern Community Center. free: 410/535-0291.

On the Water Wed. July 1 (9-3)-Kids ages 12 to 17 study osprey and band young through this Jug Bay Field Studies Program at Patuxent River Park, Upper Marlboro. free, rsvp: 301/627-6074.

March in a July 4th Parade Early Fri. July 3 (10am)-Listen to patriotic stories, grab a flag and parade through Barnes and Noble, Annapolis. free: 410/573-2084.

Call to Campers

Playtimes For Twos or Threes Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays beginning July 7 (9:30-11:30am)-Preschoolers ages two have fun at YWCA in Arnold Tues. or Thurs. while kids ages 3 meet on Wed. w/circle time, stories, music, crafts and more. Parents help on a rotating basis. $32 for four classes plus child's YWCA membership, rsvp: 410/626-7800.

crabQuirky Creatures of the Bay

by Ariel Brumbaugh, Junior Reporter


To find out about odd animals in the Bay, I interviewed Scott Smith, a crabber. He lives in Fairhaven and keeps his boat at Town Point. He gets up very early every day and goes out to Herring Bay and beyond to catch crabs. In his job he sees many creatures; a lot of them get in his crab pots. Can you identify what Scott sees?eel


(Note: the form below does nothing, except hold your guesses. The number of blanks for each category exactly match the number of animals which will fit under that category. None are repeated or not used.)

Grass Shrimp










Atlantic Blue




Tropical Fish

Sea Robins







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VolumeVI Number 25
June 25 - July 1, 1998
New Bay Times

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