Flame-Crested Hippocampus

Sci fi/Fantasy image by

Emma Absolon

The flame-crested hippocampus is named for the males' pretty crests. During mating season, they pump the thin membrane full of blood to make it as red as possible. Presumably, the mare is supposed to choose the male that doesn't faint... This stallion is a magnificent example of this ritual - note how he is flashing as much tail and crest as possible to show quite how red they are. Outside of mating season, the membrane is a peachy-yellow colour. The mare is golden and has a smaller but glowing adn glittery crest. Foals can (unsurpisingly) swim from birth, and begin to grow their crests at six months. Mares' crests stop growing on reaching late adolesence, but the stallions do not finish growing them till they begin to get old, when the blood supply to the crest is cut off and they lose their namesake. Tales have been told of finding huge greying crests large enough for sails washed up on beaches. All of the larger species of hippocampi are hunters and eat fish, and the flame-crested is large* enough to hunt small seals. Recently the flame-crested hippocampus has been the victim of fishing nets, as strips of their crests are valued as good luck charms. I realised when I wrote the Other Hippocampus's description, I said that I normally draw hippocampuses with large back and head crests, so I did a proper, big sketch to show them as I see them. It amazed me by coming out this pretty. I sketched him out at home, inked him in literature and coloured him in over the afternoon and the next day. Black ink and coloured pencils! About 7 hours, I should think. *Mares, up to 12 metres long from nose to tail-tip. The males are slightly smaller due to the amount of energy they use growing their crests. It is second only to the dusky hippocampus, which can reach up to 14m. Both were dwarfed by the megalith hippocampus, known for its unfortunate habit of eating fishing boats, and according to legend, small islands. The last megalith was sighted over 70 years ago, and has been persumed to have been hunted to extinction by terrified fishing-towns. Since each individual takes centuries to reach maturity, extinction is uncertain, but it shows that determined people can quickly decimate such a slow-growing population.

Published More than a year ago

Category Fantasy

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