By Kately Nikiforuk
Our latest featured fish is a thorny seahorse (Hippocampus histrix) with skin as orange as the Jack-o-lanterns currently adorning the porches of Vancouver (where our Canadian office is located). At the time that iSeahorse user designedforx snapped this photo, the citrus-hued steed was hanging out in Kenya’s Wasini Channel. The channel is adjacent to Wasini Island, which has a population of 3,000 residing in two villages, Mwkiro and Wasini, as well as the hamlet of Nyuma Maji.
In addition to Kenya, H. histrix is found along the coastlines of many countries bordering the Indian or Pacific ocean, such as Australia and Japan. Interestingly, there is some speculation that the global thorny seahorse population actually contains two or more cryptic species - distinct species that aren’t easily discovered due to their similar outward appearance.
More genetic analyses will need to be done to determine this, so for now, H. histrix is one seahorse species - and one of the six most frequently traded seahorse species at that. This has likely contributed to the thorny seahorse’s declining population, and their subsequent classification by the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable. Other African Hippocampus species, including the Endangered Knysna seahorse, are experiencing a downward swing in their numbers as well.
But while the seahorse populations are decreasing, we’ve been pleased to notice a recent increase in seahorse observations posted to iSeahorse from African countries, including Mozambique and Tanzania. This is very exciting, and we hope this trend continues. Please let us know if you have seen a seahorse in African waters, whether it happened yesterday or three years ago!
See the original observation here