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Updated: 03/13/2014 02:59:38PM

Slack Tides

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Seahorses: ninjas of the sea

According to findings recently published in the journal of Nature Communications, the seahorse is one of the ocean’s deadliest assassins. While a great white shark’s successful kill rate hovers around 48 percent, the seahorse boasts a 90 percent success rate, mainly, researchers say, because of its oddly shaped head. A seahorse head moves through the water in near “hydrodynamic silence,” meaning it barely disturbs the surrounding water and does not startle its prey as it approaches. Scientists found that seahorses float with the current, enabling them to gradually creep closer to their target. Once they’ve sneaked close enough, they snap their heads toward the animal — often a tiny crustacean known as a copepod — in a move called “pivot feeding.” Using advanced imaging techniques, researchers filmed the seahorse’s kill shot in action. The movement is so imperceptibly stealthy, other copepods don’t even notice. The achievement is even more remarkable because copepods are incredibly sensitive to movement, fleeing from even tiny fluid deformations around them.

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