A coastal marine seahorse that inhabits mud, sand, rubble and other habitats in the Northeast Atlantic.
Hippocampus hippocampus are mostly found inhabiting small home ranges in shallow coastal waters, lagoon systems and estuaries at depths of one to 55m.
At Living Coasts the short-snouted seahorses are fed 5 times a day. This is usually live brine shrimp (sea monkeys) or frozen mysis.
In the wild these seahorses mostly feed on small crustaceans called mysis shrimp. They may feed up to 30-50 times a day as they don’t have a very efficient digestive system. Fry (babies) may feed on up to 3000 pieces of food a day.
Seahorses use their tails to anchor themselves to the stems of plants and are extremely well camouflaged. This helps protect them from predators as do the bony plates beneath their skin. Very few animals can get their teeth into the body armour of an adult seahorse, although they are the prey of large fish, crabs and seagulls. Seahorses can be found on their own, in pairs and sometimes in groups.
These seahorses are seasonal breeders, breeding from April to October. Mating is temperature limited and gestation period is around a month
It’s the males that become pregnant. The breeding pair will put their bellies together and the female will transfer eggs to the male. He fertilises them with his sperm and then looks after the developing young for about three weeks. He then gives birth by contracting his pouch. They can give birth to 50-100 young, with larger males giving birth to more young.
Habitat degradation and disturbance through direct anthropogenic activities such as coastal developments and the effect of fishing gear e.g. trawls and dredging. Seahorses in general are often used for traditional medicines, aquarium display and curiosities. There is a conservative estimate of 150 million seahorses being taken from the wild each year.
Hippocampus hippocampus is protected by the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act of 2008 (DEFRA 2008) and is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species (JNCC 2010).
Globally, the entire genus Hippocampus was listed in Appendix II of CITES in November 2002 with implementation of the listing in 2004. Countries are required to provide permits for all exports of seahorses and are meant to provide evidence that these exports are not detrimental to wild populations.
We used to work with the Community Seagrass Initiative, a citizen science project monitoring 191 miles of coastline from Looe in Cornwall, to Weymouth in Dorset. The project aims to protect our native seagrass meadows, an important habitat for seahorses. The funding for the project has now ended, but we are hoping to continue with seagrass monitoring in the future.
- Latin Name: Hippocampus hippocampus
- Order: Syngnathiformes
- Family: Syngnathidae
- Conservation Status: Data Deficient
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