Aquarium unveils seahorse display

A new seahorse display is to be unveiled at Macduff Marine Aquarium.
A new seahorse display is to be unveiled at Macduff Marine Aquarium.

Seahorses are normally thought of as tropical fish living it up in coral reefs, but there are two hardy species that make their home in our cold Scottish coastal waters and one of these, the short snouted seahorse, is going on show at a new dedicated exhibit at Macduff Marine Aquarium.

To celebrate the arrival of the seahorses, a seahorse zone launch event was held at Macduff Marine Aquarium yesterday (Wednesday, March 27). The display was unveiled by Councillor Isobel Davidson, Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education, Learning and Leisure committee.

Macduff Marine Aquarium was given some captive bred seahorses by the Zoological Society of London which were sent up by courier. They have been in quarantine for several weeks, acclimatising to life in Macduff, and will be on permanent display from Friday, March 29.

Short snouted seahorses - or Hippocampus hippocampus, as they are also known - are about 15cm long and, whilst not common, are known to live amongst algae and seagrasses from Shetland, along the West coast and even in the North Sea. Their populations are vulnerable, however, and protected in Scotland.

Slow moving fish, they rely on good camouflage and secure themselves by wrapping their tails around seaweed. They then wait until food passes nearby, which gets quickly sucked up through their snout.

Chris Rowe, Aquarium Displays Officer who has been looking after the seahorses since their arrival, said: “The seahorses have settled in well and are feeding on tiny shrimps. Seahorses have no stomach and a pretty inefficient digestive system so they need to eat a lot, which certainly keeps our aquarist team busy.

“When they are not eating, they mostly just hang about on the seagrass but they are lovely little fish and we’re thrilled to have them on display. We hope eventually to be able to breed our own – it’s the males that get pregnant so we’ll be watching out for any courtship behaviour.”

To celebrate the seahorses’ arrival, the aquarium has been running a poetry competition for primary schools. The poems will be judged by local writer Esther Woolfson and the winning poem will be read out in the aquarium on Friday, March 29. The winner will be able to adopt a seahorse for their class.