Their peculiar snouts are shaped to create very few ripples in the water, effectively cloaking them as they creep up and pounce on tiny crustaceans.

To their victims, seahorses are more like sea monsters, say scientists from the University of Texas at Austin.

"The seahorse is one the slowest swimming fish we know of, but it's able to capture prey that swim at incredible speeds," said Brad Gemmell, author of the study in Nature Communications.

The prey, in this case, are copepods - extremely small crustaceans that are a favoured meal of seahorses, pipefish and sea dragons (Syngnathidae).

When copepods detect waves from predators, they jolt away at speeds of more than 500 body lengths per second - the equivalent of a 6-foot human swimming at 2,000 mph.