Seahorses: nice backdrops for octocorals

Satomi's pygmy seahorse, one of the world's smallest seahorses.
Satomi's pygmy seahorse, one of the world's smallest seahorses.

It’s going to be much easier to convince people Sea Fans are Super Cool now that National Geographic photographers trained their lens on new species of pygmy sea horses from Indonesia and the Red Sea. Headlines are saying the pygmy wonder horses are endemic (hello) to certain shallow reef gorgonians. Gorgonians (the other corals) are the only place a delicate little pygmy seahorse wants to live.

At under half an inch tall (13 millimeters), Satomi’s pygmy seahorse—named after dive guide Satomi Onishi—is a strong contender for the world’s smallest seahorse

Check the magnificent photo spread and watch a kid friendly video of two red pygmys doing a “morning dance” on a pretty red tropical octocoral. Look at those pinnate tentacles in the photo above. Perfect focus. You can even see the diagnistic sclerites in some of the other pictures.

In the video shown at National Geographic kids site, the texture of the seahorse skin appears so similar to the knobby gorgonian in the background that you would think they co-evolved. Too bad these seahorses can’t stand the pressure of the abyss. Mesophotic brittlestars can greatly resemble their gorgonian substrate, but the ones I’ve seen in the deep-sea are quite conspicuous. Just goes to show what a little visual stimulus can do for your body plan.

Man oh man, I gotta get a warm water gig. No wonder my colleagues spend all their time over there in Indonesia scuba diving, while my GoMx colleagues and I sit around waiting for somebody to fix the robot. Sea horses, brittlestars, sea fans, and co-evolution. Hm. There has got to be a Disney grant movie in their somewhere….

4 Replies to “Seahorses: nice backdrops for octocorals”

  1. Come on Peter, you really don’t want that warm water 100′ vis type of diving do you?
    Where’s the challenge?
    Where’s the adventure?

  2. I guess you’re right, there’s an upside. No worries about running out of air, sharks, or even missing dinner. LOL.

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