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Seahorsin’ Around

• by Sarah Teach •

Help, help! Two tiny little seahorses are in desperate need of names, and you might be the only one who can save the day! The seahorses, a Mrs. and Mr., have recently moved into their summer home at the Maria Mitchell Association’s (MMA) harborfront aquarium on Washington Street.

The seahorses sat for an interview, which we organized in order to gather information straight from their mouths. However, the couple had precious little to say and refused to be publicly quoted. Finally, we threw our hands up and moved on to Andrew Mckenna-Foster, MMA’s Director of Natural Sciences, who begun our conversation bySeahorseforWeb aptly noting, “Well, a seahorse is a seahorse,” to which we replied, “Of course, of course.” Mckenna-Foster explained, “They are lined seahorses, which means they are actually locals. So they do exist in our waters, but they’re very difficult to find. Being experts at camouflage, these seahorses can conform to whatever color is around them.” This means that in an instant, they can become a seahorse of a different color. Mckenna-Foster continued, “They can live for several years, knock on wood. They’re pretty still most of the time; they calmly cling to vegetation and hide. Each day, we put live algae in their tank, and they hunt the critters therein. They idle on their vegetation of choice until they spy something moving, then they slowly move toward it and all of a sudden, BAM!” Mckenna-Foster hoots with glee. “Seahorses are very deliberate creatures.”

Evidently you can lead a seahorse to new waters, but you can’t make it change its life partner; this species doesn’t change seahorses in midstream, midlife, or mid anything. Mckenna-Foster weighs in on the couple’s unique relationship: “They dance to greet each other very morning. We’ve seen it a few times. They link tails and move around. It’s terribly cute.” He adds, “They’re our pride and joy right now, and we’re doing everything we can to give them a really nice home.”

The names will be drawn and decided on astronomer Maria Mitchell’s 195th birthday, next Thursday, August 1, and announced at the celebration being held from 1 to 4 p.m. at MMA’s Vestal Street properties. Since both Mrs. and Mr. need names, there are potentially two winners of this contest. But don’t put the cart before the seahorse. For the best chance at winning the contest, drop by the aquarium and get to know the dynamic duo before you pick names that will suit them best. The aquarium, located at 28 Washington, is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.