On close inspection, it became clear that Leola’s prolapse was intestinal, and it appeared there was a fecal blockage. I considered trying to aspirate it with a cannula and pipette. But with such a small seahorse, it would have taken a needle to get in there, and I wasn’t going to risk that. I left her in her tank with her friends overnight. This morning she had slipped into waning responsiveness with no improvement in the prolapse, so I euthanized her.
Leola was nearly 3-1/2 years old. Given all the losses I’ve had in the past year, I begin to feel that 3-5 years really is nature’s built in lifespan for these seahorses. (Even if one does occasionally live past a decade.) I wonder if, as in most animals, there is an inexorable physical decline once the peak reproductive years are past. And that peak probably differs a bit from one individual to another.
In any case, we can’t hold onto them forever. I loved Leola dearly. I miss her, and I will not forget her.