The course blog for Bio 412 - Marine Biology at Ashland University
Thursday, March 15, 2012
One of the Cutest and Smallest Vertebrates in the sea!
Here is a fun little game, look at the pictures above and try to find the pygmy seahorse. Its hard! These little suckers have a great ability to camouflage themselves. The pygmy seahorse is a tiny species of the family Syngnathidae. They are found in the western central Pacific Ocean. It is tiny, usually less than 2 centimeters. There are two known color variations: grey with red tubercles, and yellow with orange tubercles. It is unknown whether these color varieties are linked to specific host corals. Because of its camouflage, the species wasn't discovered until its host coral was being examined in a laboratory. There are believed to be many species yet to be discovered. Seahorses like sheltered areas and are well camouflaged. They camouflage themselves by changing colour quickly to blend in with their surroundings. They also allow encrusting organisms to settle on them and they can grow long skin appendages to match their surroundings even better. During mating their skin will lighten and darken. Generally the easiest part of the seahorse to spot is the tail. The pygmy seahorse is found in coastal areas ranging from southern Japan and Indonesia to northern Australia and New Caledonia on reefs and slopes at a depth of 10–40 meters. Adults are usually found in pairs or clusters of pairs, with up to 28 pygmy seahorses recorded on a single gorgonian, and may be monogamous. Unusually, it is the male, and not the female, that becomes pregnant 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. In one birth witnessed underwater, a male ‘gave birth’ to a brood of 34 live young. The young look like miniature adult seahorses, are independent from birth, and receive no further parental care.