Pygmy seahorses
  • française


The pygmy seahorses (Hippocampus bargibanti), called also «gorgonian’s seahorses», are really very very small since their size is approximately one centimetre, tail included.

Hippocampus bargibanti
Hippocampus Bargibanti

They are very difficult to see because, in addition to be tiny, they are very mimetic. They look like, indeed, with the sea fan in which they live as much for their skin’s color, pink, silver plated or yellow, that for the polyps which seem to cover them. The seahorses are known to have a variable color and there for it is proved that they are able to change color, like many animals, to be dissimulated.heir skin conceals indeed “chromatophores” which are cells which contain pigments and which they can contract or slacken, there for controlling the color of their skin. The pygmy seahorses, them, there for have in addition form’s protuberances with an identical color at the polyps of the gorgonian where they live. I thought that they imitated to perfection the polyps of the gorgonian but I read that they have, apparently, spines on the skin and that the gorgonian polyps are rolled up around, so that the imitation is perfect, polyps are as well on gorgonian that on the fish’s skin.
It would be there a true case of symbiosis! If it’s true, they there for make integral part of the gorgonian, the polyps living also on them. On my pictures, the gorgonian polyps are often in flower, whereas on the seahorse, they “are closed”. I never saw polyps open on fish. That does not prooved if they are real or only an imitation.

Pygmy seahorse

Hippocampus Bargibanti in a yellow sea fan

If you have any information on this subject, I am of course interested. We find these “pygmies” essentially in the western Indo-pacific and Pacific. To take them in picture it is a true challenge, because they need to be practically looked with the magnifying glass (unless having a very good view) on the gorgonians, also they, apparently, live on red, pink or gray gorgonian Muricella plectana and the yellow gorgonian Muricella paraplectana.

DIV4900 - Hippocampus denise

Hippocampus denise

Once located, and unless a little current agitating the gorgonian, the focus with the macro objective appears tiresome. Moreover seahorses do not like the light and the strobes and systematically finish to turn their back. There for the photographer is sometimes obliged to make the point without the assistance of his pilot lamps! Hurry people, don’t try it!
One identified recently (Lourie and Randall, 2003) another species of pygmy seahorse, the hippocampus Denise which appears even more strange. Its muzzle is short and pointed and it does not have a spine on the head. He also lives in the gorgonian - oranges - and seems to have also protuberances on the body. It is even smaller than Hippocampus bargibanti and is characterized by a yellow orange color which also enables him to be based in its habitat. It is a protected species on which one has only few information.s for the other seahorse species, in fact also the males carry their offspring in their ventral pocket. There is not another case of this type in the animal world.
Definitely these seahorses are many attractive animals in addition to being attaching, beautiful and slenders.



François Zylberman

Mots clés/Tags: , , , , ,

A propos de cet article - About this entry