Three new pygmy seahorses described from Indonesia

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Scientists from Canada and Australia have described three new species of pygmy seahorses from Indonesia.

Publishing their results in a recent issue of the journal Zootaxa, Sara Lourie and Rudie Kuiter name Hippocampus pontohi and H. severnsi from Bunaken Island, off Sulawesi, and H. satomiae from Derawan Island, off Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo).

Hippocampus severnsiHippocampus severnsi is distinguished from congeners in having a combination of: extremely small size (height 13 mm, standard length 15 mm); 12 trunk rings; 27 tail rings; reduced ossification of inferior and ventral trunk ridges; 14 dorsal fin rays; 10 pectoral fin rays; anal fin small or absent; medium length snout which lacks a bulbous tip; raised, angular coronet; single gill opening on midline directly behind coronet supported by raised cleithral bone; scattered tubercles on trunk and tail; predominant colour dark brown (sometimes slightly marbled) with large, bright red patch covering dorsolateral surfaces of trunk rings 1"4; tiny white dots scattered all over; pale posterior section of tail with dark transverse bands.

This species is named after Mike Severns, who helped collect the first specimens.

Hippocampus pontohiHippocampus pontohi, named after Indonesian dive guide Hence Pontoh, is distinguished from other congeners in having a combination of: extremely small size (height 14 mm, standard length 17 mm); 12 trunk rings; 26"28 tail rings; reduced ossification of inferior and ventral trunk ridges; 14 dorsal fin rays; 9"10 pectoral fin rays; anal fin small or absent; brooding area in males anterior to anus; medium length snout which lacks a bulbous tip; raised, angular coronet; fused or almost fused gill-openings on midline behind coronet supported by raised cleithral girdle; scattered tubercles on trunk and tail; distinctive branching filaments (usually red in life) attached to the enlarged superior trunk ridge spine of the fifth trunk ring; white colour, occasionally with yellow or pink especially along the dorsal surface, with fine red lines on the trunk, and reddish transverse bands across the tail.

Hippocampus pontohi by Stephen Childs, Creative Commons.

Hippocampus satomiaeHippocampus satomiae is distinguished from congeners in having a combination of: extremely small size (height 11 mm, standard length 14 mm); 12 trunk rings; 27"28 tail rings; reduced ossification of inferior and ventral trunk ridges; 13 dorsal fin rays; 9 pectoral fin rays; anal fin small or absent; brooding area in males anterior to anus; well"developed spine on snout between eyes; distinct raised coronet with laterally expanded anterior and posterior flanges ('H"shaped' when viewed from above); snout without a bulbous tip; single gill opening on midline directly behind coronet supported by raised cleithral bone; large spines above eyes (double), laterally on head, on shoulder (cleithral) ring, bordering throat, and on superior trunk ridge; spines also present on lateral and ventral angles between trunk ridges and rings; spines on superior ridge of first and second trunk rings appear externally as if they are fused.

This species is named after Satomi Onishi, the dive guide that collected these specimens.

For more information, see the paper: Lourie, SA and RH Kuiter (2008) Three new pygmy seahorse species from Indonesia (Teleostei: Syngnathidae: Hippocampus). Zootaxa 1963, pp. 54"68.