Small and mighty (Why the weedy pygmy is going strong)
By Rebecca Waines
Our latest iSeahorse featured observation comes from Daniel Schofield (djscho on iNaturalist) who captured this wonderful weedy pygmy (Hippocampus pontohi) amidst the pink corals of Indonesia.
The weedy pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi) was named after the Indonesian dive guide, Hence Pontoh, who discovered it. As with most pygmy seahorses, it grows to be ~ 1.5 centimeters long, and is typically found between 11-20 m depth. The weedy pygmy’s favorite place to hang is in Halimeda seaweed meadows.
These Halimeda meadows will, however, become less and less prevalent as the ocean acidifies, meaning that these beautiful creatures will have to branch out and inhabit other areas… Instead of its typical green environment, this featured pygmy is at home in the fuchsia hues of coral and encrusting algae.
Weedy pygmies are very small - usually no longer than two cm - and can be tricky to spot, but being small has its advantages. Thanks to its size, these seahorses are less exploited than their larger cousins for commercial trade.
Although their future is uncertain, the size and adaptability of H. pontohi means they have a hopeful chance at continuing to thrive in nature! Currently, they are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Daniel Schofield photographs the magnificent marine life of the Indo-Pacific. Thanks to him we can see this species, small and bright, and hanging on (both literally and metaphorically) with its firmly coiled tail…
Learn more about the weedy pygmy:
Atlas of Living Australia. Hippocampus pontohi Lourie & Kuiter, 2008