I found this female* Lined Seahorse (Hippocampus Erectus) during my beach walk this morning. Relatively poor swimmers, this specialized species of fish is usually attached to seagrass or soft coral.
However, the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico was recently churned up by passing storms, so the sand was littered with detritus. Sadly, this girl was one of the casualties.
Thankfully, this species has a wide distribution, from Nova Scotia to Brazil, so one local disturbance shouldn’t negatively impact the population. Well-camouflaged, predation is not a major worry (also they are quite bony and therefore, not a favored food). The main threats to the species are bottom trawling, seagrass bed destruction, and usage in Chinese medicine.
My walk coincided with slack water so the serene gulf belied the previous tumult…
*Male seahorses have a brood pouch which extends past the lower dorsal fin.