July’s showcased iSeahorse snapshot features a particularly photogenic Pontoh’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi). This candid was caught by iSeahorse user element-spn, during an aquatic descent near the Northern Mariana Islands. The diver has encountered this species each June when they’ve visited Wing Beach.
Pontoh’s pygmy seahorse is one of the smallest and most recently discovered Hippocampus species. They were found around Indonesia in 2008 by Rudie Kuiter and Project Seahorse’s Sara Lourie, the same year they discovered Satomi’s pygmy seahorse (H. satomaie). Since then, Pontoh’s pygmy seahorses have been thrust into the limelight, a pair of them having been the focal point of the winning entry for the Guylian Seahorses of the World 2012 underwater photography competition. At a max recorded length of 1.7 cm, it’s an impressive feat to spot H. pontohi in the wild, but dozens of sightings have been posted to iSeahorse following the species’ discovery.
H. pontohi is currently considered by the IUCN to be a Data Deficient species. The four other pygmy seahorse species (Bargibant’s, Coleman’s, Denise’s and Satomi’s) are either Data Deficient as well, or Not Evaluated. There is so much research to be done surrounding this branch of the Hippocampus family tree. Are there more pygmies awaiting discovery? We need to protect our oceans today so we don’t lose the chance to find out in the years to come.
See the full observation here: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/6884551