A tiny seahorse was spotted hanging onto an oyster cage off of Manhattan's westside earlier this month—a sign of spring and also just an extremely adorable addition to New York City's wildlife. Look how smol! Look!

The little creature was the first sighting of the year for Hudson River Park's staff, who spotted the seahorse clinging to an oyster cage on the south side of Pier 40 on April 7th. The pier is where the park's River Project monitors the estuary's wildlife, according to a spokesperson for the Hudson River Park Trust.

Staff usually spot around 10 to 15 seahorses each year, and the first sighting signifies spring is arriving as the waters warm. A surge in plankton can also draw the creatures.

"Seeing our first seahorse of the season is a sign that the River is starting to wake up after winter, with water temperature starting to get into the low 50's," the park's senior director of education and outreach, Tina Walsh, told us. "And in fact, since this first sighting, the team collected a second seahorse this past week on Wednesday!"

A seahorse in a container of water.

The seahorse was spotted April 7th, 2021.

arrow
The seahorse was spotted April 7th, 2021.
Tina Walsh for Hudson River Park

The lower Hudson River near Manhattan is actually an estuary, with saltier waters from the ocean creating the perfect environment for seahorses. The state's Department of Environmental Conservation notes the estuary draws flounders and sea robins, the latter a bottom-feeding fish with bird-like wings.

"Many people are surprised to learn that Hudson River Park’s Estuarine Sanctuary waters are home to 70 species of fish, including the lined seahorse," Walsh added. "Seahorses are a species we expect to see in early spring through the early fall while checking collection traps as part of the ongoing fish ecology survey."

The waterways near New York City are typically thought of as badly polluted due to the city's historic roots in manufacturing industries. But in recent years, signs the water is getting cleaner are popping up.

According to the park, seahorses typically latch onto objects for safety since they aren't great swimmers. Similarly, I'll be emotionally latching onto this very small creature as a sign of better days ahead and optimism for what the summer could bring. Perhaps a heavy burden for a tiny seahorse, but they'll be sharing it with a trio of dolphins spotted in the East River a few weeks ago and yet another dolphin seen in the Hudson River in early March: