Journal archives for May 2020

May 12, 2020

Gentle (underwater) "giant" of Galapagos - the Pacific seahorse

by Rebecca Waines

Pacific seahorse ( Hippocampus ingens ). Photo by Rémi Bigonneau

Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens). Photo by Rémi Bigonneau

This month’s featured gem of citizen science goes to Rémi Bigonneau (remi_bigonneau on iNaturalist) for this dazzling shot of the Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens) off the coast of the Galapagos Islands.

Extraordinarily large for a seahorse, Pacific seahorses - also known as Giant seahorses - can grow to 31 cm long and are rivaled only by the big bellied seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis) which can grow to 34 cm long.

Pacific seahorse populations are typically confined to the coast that runs from California to Peru, which is why this wily island-dwelling population in the Galapagos waters is so special. The Galapagos Islands have been admired around the world ever since a strapping young Darwin stepped foot on them over 150 years ago. At the time, it was the giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and intimately related bird species which left Darwin amazed. Little did he know the treasures that might have awaited him… if only he had gone for a scuba dive.

I’m sure Darwin would have been fascinated to see this species, which, for a fish, is a little bizarre:- its males give birth to live young, its tails coils instead of swishes, and it has a fused jaw, among many other interesting traits.

Unfortunately, these gentle “giants” continue to be caught for use in cultural medicine, the aquarium trade, and the souvenir industry, and are presently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

If you wish to learn more about the conservation status and efforts of the Pacific seahorse check out the links below:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226558395_Genetic_differentiation_across_eastern_Pacific_oceanographic_barriers_in_the_threatened_seahorse_Hippocampus_ingens

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.0022-1112.2004.00429.x

Posted on May 12, 2020 20:21 by projectseahorse projectseahorse | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Small and mighty (Why the weedy pygmy is going strong)

Pygmy weedy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi) by

By Rebecca Waines

Our latest iSeahorse featured observation comes from Daniel Schofield (djscho on iNaturalist) who captured this wonderful weedy pygmy (Hippocampus pontohi) amidst the pink corals of Indonesia.

The weedy pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi) was named after the Indonesian dive guide, Hence Pontoh, who discovered it. As with most pygmy seahorses, it grows to be ~ 1.5 centimeters long, and is typically found between 11-20 m depth. The weedy pygmy’s favorite place to hang is in Halimeda seaweed meadows.  

These Halimeda meadows will, however, become less and less prevalent as the ocean acidifies, meaning that these beautiful creatures will have to branch out and inhabit other areas… Instead of its typical green environment, this featured pygmy is at home in the fuchsia hues of coral and encrusting algae. 

Weedy pygmies are very small - usually no longer than two cm - and can be tricky to spot, but being small has its advantages. Thanks to its size, these seahorses are less exploited than their larger cousins for commercial trade.  

Although their future is uncertain, the size and adaptability of H. pontohi means they have a hopeful chance at continuing to thrive in nature!  Currently, they are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Daniel Schofield photographs the magnificent marine life of the Indo-Pacific. Thanks to him we can see this species, small and bright, and hanging on (both literally and metaphorically) with its firmly coiled tail…

 Learn more about the weedy pygmy:

Posted on May 12, 2020 20:41 by projectseahorse projectseahorse | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 13, 2020

Amanda Vincent wins world’s top award for animal conservation.

Dr Amanda Vincent, Project Seahorse director and co-founder, becomes the first marine conservationist to win the prestigious Indianapolis Prize.

“This prestigious global award allows me to advocate for vastly more attention to the ocean – which accounts for 99 percent of the living space on Earth – and all the species on which the marine ecosystem depends. — Amanda Vincent

Watch an inspiring video and find out more here

Posted on May 13, 2020 18:18 by projectseahorse projectseahorse | 0 comments | Leave a comment