An orange seahorse mistaken for junk food was rescued on Indian Shores Beach in Florida earlier this week. A young girl and her mother were having a day out at the beach when the girl noticed something odd.
A seagull flying above her dropped what looked like a cheeto out of it’s mouth. The girl might have thought, “no seagull in their right mind would drop something as valuable as a cheeto” or maybe she wanted the cheeto for herself. In either case, she went over to investigate and found something much, much better.
The girl and her mother put the little orange seahorse in a bucket of water and called the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, who rehabilitate and release rescued marine life. They named her “Cheeto” of course, and cared for her at the aquarium, feeding her live shrimp and monitoring her health.
Cheeto is a female lined seahorse, or spotted seahorse (Hippocampus erectus). It was a small miracle that Cheeto was rescued since the lined seahorses are experiencing a decline in population. With more and more people moving closer to the coast, the seahorses habitats are being destroyed. The lined seahorses are also common in the aquarium trade, and used in Chinese medicine – both contributing factors to its “vulnerable” status.
Typically, orange seahorses like Cheeto will live among orange and yellow sponges for camouflage. Lined seahorses are experts at blending in, they can actually change colours depending on their surroundings, much like a chameleon. The aquarium suspects that ocean currents blew Cheeto out of her comfy home and closer to the beach, where a waiting seagull grabbed her.
Often, seagulls reject seahorses as snacks due to their spiny bone structure. For the lucky horses, they’ll be spat out over the ocean and happily return to their sponges. Cheeto wasn’t that fortunate, but still managed to find her way back home.
We love stories with a happy ending! Check out Cheetos rescue video, shot by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, below.