Photo worth seeing: In the kingdom of the seahorses

Dwarf seahorse
Two dwarf seahorses are hiding in the coral branches. © Francois Libert /CC-by-nc 4.0

These red and white, knobby dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus bargibanti) are visually one with the coral. And they have to be if they don’t want to end up as a sea predator’s dinner. The mini seahorses, which are just two centimeters tall, hold on to coral branches with their tails almost all day long. Thanks to their coloring and knotty surface, they are perfectly camouflaged and can hardly be distinguished from a coral branch.

But at least these two specimens could not escape the watchful eyes of a research assistant. Her photo and data on her lifestyle have now been incorporated into the so-called “iSeahorse program”. As part of this, citizen scientists and amateur researchers around the world were asked to record sightings of seahorses in the wild and to add information about the location and depth of the sea. The result was 7,794 validated iSeahorse observations from 96 countries and 35 different species.

With this wealth of data, marine biologists led by Elsa Camins from the University of British Columbia were now able to gain new insights into the world of seahorses. Among other things, the sightings have shown that some species such as the spiny seahorse (Hippocampus histrix) are more widespread than previously thought. Other species, including the Coleman’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus colemani), live in much shallower areas than previously thought. And still other species mate more frequently than expected. “In the tropics, seahorses have been reported ready to mate in every month. “Surprisingly, this was also true for the Asian species in the northern hemisphere, although with more mating in the spring,” explains Camins.

Recent Articles

Related Stories