Tag Archives: Lined Seahorse

Cape Ann Wildlife: A Year in Pictures

snowy-owl-gloucester-massachusetts-c2a9kim-smith-2015My husband Tom suggested that I write a year-end post about the wildlife that I had photographed around Cape Ann. Super idea I thought, that will be fun and easy. Not realizing how daunting and many hours later, the following is a collection of some favorite images from this past year, beginning with the male Snowy Owl photographed at Captain Joe’s dock last winter, to December’s Red-tailed Hawk huntress.
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Living along the great Atlantic Flyway, we have been graced with a bevy of birds. Perhaps the most exciting arrival of all occurred when early summer brought several pairs of nesting Piping Plovers to Gloucester’s most beloved (and most highly trafficked) of beaches, Good Harbor Beach. Their story is being documented on film.

piping-plovers-chicks-nestlings-babies-kim-smithWork on Mr. Swan’s film will also resume this January—the winters are simply not long enough for all I have planned!swan-outstretched-wings-niles-pond-coyright-kim-smith

While photographing and filming Red-winged Blackbirds this past spring, there was a face-to-face encounter with a hungry coyote, as well as several River Otter sightings.

female-red-winged-blackbird-copyright-kim-smitrhFemale Red-winged Blackbirdeastern-coyote-massachusetts-kim-smith

The summer’s drought brought Muskrats out from the reeds and into full view at a very dry Henry’s Pond, and a short film about a North American Beaver encounter at Langsford Pond. Numerous stories were heard from folks who have lived on Cape Ann far longer than I about the extraordinary number of egrets, both Snowy and Great, dwelling on our shores.
three-muskrat-family-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithThree Muskrateers
female-monarch-depositing-eggs-1-copyright-kim-smithnewly-emerged-monarch-butterfly-copyright-kim-smith-jpgThere were few Monarch sightings, but the ones seen thankfully deposited eggs in our garden. Thank you to my new friend Christine who shared her Cecropia Silkmoth eggs with me and thank you to the countless readers who have extended an invitation to come by and photograph an exciting creature in their yard.

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Pristine beaches, bodies of fresh water, and great swathes of protected marsh and woodland make for ideal wildlife habitat, and Cape Ann has it all. With global climate change pushing species further away from the Equator, I imagine we’ll be seeing even more creatures along our shores. Butterfly and bee populations are overall in decline, not only because of climate change and the use of pesticides, but also because of loss of habitat. As Massachusetts has become less agrarian and more greatly forested, fields of wildflowers are becoming increasingly rare. And too fields often make the best house lots. Farmers and property owners developing an awareness of the insects’ life cycle and planting and maintaining fields and gardens accordingly will truly help the butterflies and bees.
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Thank you to all our readers for your kind comments of appreciation throughout the year for the beautiful wild creatures with which we share this gorgeous peninsula called Cape Ann.

The images are not arranged in any particular order. If you’d like to read more about a particular animal, type the name of the animal in the search box and the original post should come up.

I wonder what 2017 will bring?

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Gloucester’s Little Seahorse Final Update

Abbie Lundberg, Tony’s wife, writes: “Tony brought home a bunch of sand fleas yesterday and the seahorse was excited – hunting and catching some, but he then spit them back out. The aquarium never called back, so Tony decided to release him today, back in the same area he found him. (Of course the aquarium called after that happened 😞) Hopefully he’ll find his way back to warmer waters.”

Thank you to Abbie and Tony for sharing their seahorse capture and release story. Readers may have noticed in the comment section of the previous update that lobsterman Gary also came home with a seahorse, which he found off Plum Cove Beach. I never would have imagined that we have seahorses, even occasional ones, living in the cold waters of Cape Ann, but it is truly exciting to know they are here.

Here’s a short video of a Lined Seahorse that I shot at the aquarium in Cincinnati while visiting relatives about five years ago. Although the same species as Gloucester’s little seahorse, note the two wildly different colors. Lined Seahorses change color to blend with their environment, which aids in capturing prey.

lined-seahorse-copyright-kim-smithThis funny video came up  on my video feed, of male seahorses giving birth. FASCINATING!!!

Update on Gloucester’s Little Seahorse

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Love the fins!

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Thank you to Tony and Abbie for allowing me to come by and get some footage of the spunky little seahorse. This is the fourth seahorse Tony has found, the second this week. He finds them feeding on tiny crustaceans in his lobster bait traps. I think this is a female. If you look closely in the above Instagram and compare with the diagram below, she does not have the male’s brood pouch.

Lined Seahorses are not strong swimmers; they ambush their prey by camouflaging themselves, changing color to blend with their environment. They are found in shades ranging from deep brownish black to gray to green, red, and oranges. Lined Seahorses feed on small crustaceans, fish larvae, and plankton. Their mouths are without teeth and instead of biting, use a sucking action to draw in food. Because a seahorse has no stomach, it must eat constantly.

Seahorses live in habitats where there is an abundance of vegetation to hold onto, for example, eel grass and seaweed in southern New England. On temperate shorelines they may curl their tail around mangrove roots and corals. It seems logical that Tony’s bait traps make a convenient feeding station, providing both food and a place on which to latch. Although rare, sightings as far north as Nova Scotia have been reported. Cape Cod is the tippy end of the Lined Seahorse’s northern breeding range.

Fun fact about Lined Seahorses: Scientists report that the males dance for their mate every morning as a way to bond.

The Lined Seahorse population is in decline; their species status is listed as “vulnerable.” The reason for the decline is not only habitat destruction, but sadly and preventably, because they are a popular commodity in the trinket trade.

A reporter from NECN and NBC contacted Tony and the story may be airing on NECN.  Let us know if you see the episode. Here’s a video Tony’s wife Abbie made, posted on GMG in 2010.  The seahorse in this video was caught in December, in Ipswich Bay, in 40 degree waters.

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Seahorse Capture in Gloucester Waters!!

Lobsterman and School Committee Member Tony Gross came home from lobstering with a pint-sized creature, a seahorse measuring just about four inches. I don’t know much about seahorses, but this looks like a Lined Seahorse. Lined Seahorses are found from Nova Scotia to Venezuela, but I also read that most generally live only as far north as Cape Cod. It probably wouldn’t survive our current cold water temperatures. Tony and his wife Abbie are giving it fresh seawater and sand fleas. According to Abbie, this little Hippocampus likes hanging out in the water bubbles.

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Photos provided by Abbie and Tony Gross, graphic from Nat Geo.

Seahorses at the Newport Aquarium

Lined Seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) at the Newport Aquarium of Greater Cincinnati.

Notice the rapidly fluttering dorsal fin and the tiny pectoral fins, which are located above the eyes; seahorses have no caudal fin. Seahorses suck up food through their long snouts, and similarly to chameleons, their eyes can move independently of each other.

Habitat: Atlantic coastal waters from Nova Scotia to Uruguay. Diet: Small shrimp, other small crustacean, plankton, and tiny fish. The female seahorse deposits eggs in the male “brood pouch.” The male carries the eggs until the fry emerge. He expels fully developed miniature seahorses into the water.

“Hippocampus” comes from the Ancient Greek hippos meaning “horse” and kampos meaning “sea monster”.