One fish, two fish... spiky fish, thorny fish....

By Kately Nikiforuk

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September’s featured iSeahorse observation is a jaw-dropping pic of two fused-jawed fish! Many species of seahorse are monogamous and thus often found in pairs, as is the case here. iSeahorse user ollieclarke17 gets the photo credits for this shot, which was captured in East Timor, a country ringed by coastlines rich with marine life. 

As opposed to last month’s observation, it can be said with confidence that these presumed lovebirds belong to a certain species - in this case,  Hippocampus histrix, aka the thorny seahorse. While there are similar-looking species, including H. jayakari (Jayakar’s seahorse), H. barbouri (Barbour’s seahorse), H. angustus (narrow-bellied seahorse) and H. spinosissimus (hedgehog seahorse), thorny seahorses can be distinguished from the rest due to their long snout. H. histrix also has one of the largest distributions of any Hippocampus species, with a range spanning both the Pacific and Indian oceans and encompassing China, Hawai’i, and South Africa, among many other countries.

Regardless of their distinctiveness, in trade records, the name H. histrix is often used for any spiky seahorse captured in the Indo-Pacific. This complicates the data on this species’ population trends and trade frequency. However, much more is known about thorny seahorses than in the past - in 2012, their IUCN Red List status went from Data Deficient to Vulnerable. It has been determined that their population is on the downswing - an unfortunate trend, but ignorance isn’t bliss when biodiversity is on the line! 

Thanks again to ollieclarke17, who is a prolific photographer. Two of his pictures were recently chosen for the #SeahorseAlphabet (check them out on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!) to represent the letters C (H. comes) and H (hedgehog seahorse). 

Ollieclarke17’s tiger tail seahorse (H. comes) observation
Ollieclarke17’s hedgehog seahorse (H. spinosissimus) observation
 

Reflecting on SyngBio, the global gathering for seahorse, pipefish & seadragon people

I’ve just had the most amazing week in Florida, filling my head with wonder and my heart with joy.  I wasn’t sure what to expect on my first International SyngBio meeting where hundreds of researchers and professionals from all over the world were set to meet in Tampa, Florida. After all, I am new to the Syngnathid world. 

Endangered Species Day

“Extinction Lasts Forever” reads the colourful poster of a seahorse, wrasse, turtle, and octopus beside my desk at Project Seahorse.  It reminds me of the poster hanging in my room as an undergraduate biology student, the one that said, “Protect them: because once they’re gone it’s too late.”

April’s featured iSeahorse observation - a Jayakar’s seahorse from Egypt

April’s featured iSeahorse observation is a Jayakar’s seahorse (Hippocampus jayakari). This lovely portrait was taken off the coast of Dahab, Egypt, by iSeahorse user poseidon. The username poseidon is certainly apt for a fish-whispering diver, as the Poseidon of Greek mythology is said to ride a chariot pulled by aquatic equines called hippocampi, which allegedly have horse heads and fish tails (sort of like seahorses… or horse mermaids!). 

Meet Rosie - a bigbelly seahorse from Australia

February’s featured observation is actually three sightings of one bigbelly seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis), all posted recently by iSeahorse user Andrew Trevor-Jones but recorded over the course of several years off the coast of New South Wales, Australia. This rotund beauty has been dubbed “Rosie”. She was identified as the same individual based on her distinctive spot pattern. 

First featured iSeahorse sighting of 2017 - a thorny seahorse

The first showcased iSeahorse sighting of 2017 is of a thorny seahorse, Hippocampus histrix. It was found within the boundary of Mafia Island Marine Park, a region in Tanzania consisting of island, coastal and ocean ecosystems that are internationally acclaimed for their biodiversity.

The Japanese seahorse - November's highlighted iSeahorse observation

November’s featured iSeahorse observation is of a Japanese seahorse, Hippocampus mohnikei. This little fish was spied off the Cambodian coast during a formal seahorse survey conducted by Projects Abroad Cambodia. The sighting is rather timely, considering the recent publication of a paper illuminating updates in knowledge about this species’ range, habitat and threats.