They concluded that Cheeto was a female lined seahorse who was likely grazing for tiny shrimp that inhabit seagrass beds and reefs. Seahorses commonly change color to match their surroundings for natural camouflage, so she was probably living in red and orange sponges before the currents swept her toward the beach. That’s where the hungry seagull swooped down and grabbed her in his beak.
Seagulls usually spit seahorses out right after picking them up due to their bony structure. If it happens over land, the seahorses have little chance at survival, according to Don Stansell, a marine biologist with CMA.
“The chances of surviving being dropped by a seagull in the sand are small,” he tells The Dodo. “It’s amazing because all of the things happened at the exact right time and probably only in a two-minute window for her to have survived.”