Creature Feature — Pygmy Seahorse
The tiny pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti) is a tiny seahorse found at many dive sites in Bali and much coveted by macro photographers. Amazingly camouflaged and hidden in gorgonian fans (Muricella plectana and Muricella paraplectana). It takes the keen eyes of our amazing PADI Divemasters to find these little critters that grow to a height of usually less than 2 cm. In Amed, there is one gorgonian fan which is home to 6+ pygmy seahorse, they can also be found on the USAT Liberty shipwreck in Tulamben.
It’s this camouflage the pygmy seahorse uses to protect itself. The species was only discovered when its host gorgonian was being examined in a laboratory. Large, bulbous tubercles cover its body and match the colour and shape of the polyps of its host species of gorgonian coral, while its body matches the gorgonian stem. So for our budding photographers it’s often a case of throwing your arms up and asking ‘where?’ underwater to our local eagle eyed guides.
Not much is known about this species, but they are thought to feed on tiny crustaceans, zooplankton and possibly the tissue of the corals on which they live
Unusually, it is the male, and not the female, carries the eggs in seahorses. Breeding occurs year-round. The female lays her eggs in a brood pouch in his trunk region. They are fertilized by the male, and incubated until birth with gestation averaging two weeks. The young look like miniature adult seahorses, are independent from birth, and receive no further parental care
There are 9 known species of pygmy seahorse. Due to their amazing camouflage ability and tiny size, many pygmy seahorse species have only been discovered over the past 10 years, and more may be discovered.
Want to see these beautiful little critters for yourself? Check out our daily dive trips to the Tulamben area.