A writer's life doesn't have enough distractions, so I also have a 60-gallon marine (salt water) seahorse reef, which sits beside my writing desk.
|How's that for a distraction?|
Seahorses are one of nature's strangest predators. They have no fangs--no teeth at all--no claws, no spikes, and no poison.
Instead of arms and legs, they have only four tiny fins for locomotion (the smallest of which is really only a rudder).
|Not as easy as it looks.|
And yet, in the wild, they eat only live, meaty foods: small shrimp and crustaceans foolish enough to swim or wander near the seahorse's hiding place,
|See horse? He sees you.|
or which the seahorse manages to "dive bomb" in midwater.
|Dive! Dive! Dive!|
In many places, seahorses are endangered in the wild, so my seahorses are all captive-bred, from a breeder in Florida. I have six at the moment:
Ghillie, the oldest, who I've had since he was a baby. He's a four year-old male, and he's even had babies once himself. (Now he's the self-styled protector of little Magellan.)
|Big Ghillie, little Magellan - buddies.|
Kirin and Vega are five months old - I got them at Christmastime, 2014:
|Kirin (front) and Vega (behind) eating from a feeding station.|
along with Magellan, who's the same age as Kirin and Vega, but much smaller (we'll discuss his issues another time).
|Magellan: small but determined.|
Finally, Rigel (top) and Moya - who arrived last week.
|Rigel and Vega, hanging out on the reef.|
In the wild, seahorses are territorial ambush predators. Their eyes move independently, like a chameleon's, and seahorses also possess the ability to change their colors and patterns at will. Most of the time, they opt for colors that blend into the environment, but when mating or communicating with one another, they can (and do) turn any color.
|Vega, "blushing" to get Ghillie's attention.|
(Ghillie tends to favor pink and mauve when he's in the mood.)
The title "murder on the reef" most likely made you think of sharks, or other dangerous creatures from below. Adjusted for size, the seahorses and other syngnathids--the sea dragon and the pipefish--are actually far more aggressive, and ruthless, than many creatures people fear far more.
|Hang around...these guys will be back in coming weeks.|
-- Susan ... on a bloody Valentine's Sunday under the sea.