Clearwater Marine Aquarium rescues and rehabilitates marine life of all sizes, from whales, dolphins and sea turtles to stingrays and smaller sea creatures in need. Each is cared for with full attention. One little seahorse captured our hearts with its surprising story of survival, thanks to the quick actions of a little girl and her mother.
While out enjoying a day at Indian Shores Beach, they saw a seagull flying with what looked like an orange Cheeto in its mouth. The seabird dropped the Cheeto near the little girl,who found it and realized the cheeto was actually an orange seahorse! She placed it in a bucket and showed her mother, who called Clearwater Marine Aquarium for help.
A rescue team volunteer drove out to Indian Shores to bring back the seahorse to CMA. Cheeto is currently recovering and being taken care of by the aquatics department in a quarantine habitat. Cheeto slowly began eating some tiny grass shrimp after a few days and looking much better. Although initially appearing very orange, Cheeto now has taken on a bright yellow color. Color change is common in some seahorses, which have an ability known as crypsis to camouflage and match their surroundings.
Why Did a Seahorse End up on the Beach?
Cheeto is a female lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) and was most likely living among some orange and red sponges before currents took her near the beach. Most common food items include tiny shrimp and crustaceans that inhabit seagrass beds and reefs. It’s more common to find seahorses near the surface of the water during the springtime.
Seagulls sometimes pluck seahorses from the the water, but usually reject them due to their bony structure. Unfortunately they aren’t always over water when they spit them out. Luckily for this seahorse, there was a very heroic little girl nearby to help rescue her and dedicated people providing care at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. We hope to see Cheeto recover and hopefully get released back into the wild soon.
“The level and amount of care we are providing Cheeto is indicative of the serious commitment and passion that CMA has for all marine life,” said David Yates, CEO. “Each creature is important to us, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to rehabilitate Cheeto.”
UPDATE: Cheeto was released back to the ocean on May 16, 2017.