Meet Rosie - a bigbelly seahorse from Australia

By Kately Nikiforuk

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. 

After meeting Rosie for the first time in December 2012, Andrew observed her regularly in the same patch of ocean until she was relocated in April 2015 when Sydney was struck by a storm. Andrew then spied her a few weeks later, 800 metres away from her original stomping grounds. The next time their currents crossed was in July of 2015, in another neck of the reef. She clung tight for nearly a year until she was uprooted by an even stronger storm, and was last glimpsed in August 2016. Hailing solely from Australia and New Zealand, bigbellies are easily distinguishable, as they have a bigger belly; and boast more rings and rays than most seahorses. They are off-white, yellow or brown, with dark spots and splotches, and their heads are often crowned with thick fronds. H. abdominalis is one of the largest Hippocampus species, reaching a maximum recorded height of 35 cm! They are also one of the most sexually dimorphic species, as females have deep keels, and males are heftier and have squatter snouts, taller tails, prominent pouches and spottier scales.

The average lifespan of a wild seahorse is 1-5 years, and Rosie was seen alive and well from late 2012 to mid 2016. She has weathered many storms over the course of her life - hopefully she is still swimming...

Links to Rosie's observations: 
2012 Dec 01 | 2015 Jan 17 | 2016 Aug 11

Learn more about the bigbelly seahorse. 
Red list status: Vulnerable

Originally posted on iSeahorse.org