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18 October, 2016

The West African seahorse- this month's highlight

H. algricus. Photo by Nuno Vasco Rodrigues

September’s featured observation comes to us from the Island of São Tomé. Nuno Vasco Rodrigues spotted a group of five West African seahorses, Hippocampus algiricus, near a small island off the west coast of Gabon, West Africa. This species is one of two occurring in the eastern Atlantic Ocean off of Africa (the other being Hippocampus hippocampus). Project Seahorse has discovered over the last 20 years that seahorses are traded at high levels throughout West Africa. This species in particular has been documented in international trade, with an average of 700 000 individuals per year between 2004 and 2008. 

Like other seahorses, the West African seahorse is caught as bycatch in trawl fisheries throughout its range, and fishers have reported declines in their catch. Increasingly, artisanal fishers are also exploiting the species. Combined with habitat degradation (again due to trawling), fishing pressures have led to a substantial decline and thus a listing as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  The international trade of seahorses is regulated by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).  All species of seahorse are listed on Appendix II of CITES, meaning that although trade is not banned, it is monitored. Countries with substantial trade in the species are required to submit ‘Non-detriment Findings’ or NDFs to CITES to prove the trade does not harm wild populations.

Observations like this one by Nuno help us get a firm idea of the species’ true range, their habitat type, and numbers over time, all of which inform IUCN Red List assessments and CITES trade regulation in the hopes of protecting the species.  Thanks again to Nuno for posting this interesting observation from São Tomé!

 

August 31, 2016

2000+ observations on iSeahorse!

H. bargibanti. Photo by sorcrs.Great news – this summer we reached our 2000th seahorse observation on iSeahorse.
 
Observation 2000 is one of Hippocampus bargibanti, Bargibant’s pygmy seahorse. It comes to us from one of the hotspots for iSeahorse contributions, the northeastern tip of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Posted by iSeahorse user sorcrs, it’s a great shot of the pygmy seahorse on its obligate host gorgonian coral.
 
As we surpass 2000 seahorse observations, we take look back at what the program has accomplished so far. Since launching in late 2013, iSeahorse and the users that contribute their observations have generated a great deal of new knowledge about seahorses and engaged people worldwide with marine conservation. iSeahorse has now accumulated data for 36 of 41 seahorse species, while engaging some 428 unique observers, many of whom have contributed multiple observations.  User-contributed observations on iSeahorse have greatly expanded the known ranges of several seahorses, including an expansion of several hundred kilometres for Hippocampus sindonis, 1000 km for Hippocampus comes, and a huge expansion of more than 4000 km for Hippocampus pontohi. We are also learning much about the depth ranges and habitat preferences of all the species observed, which will contribute to conservation planning efforts in the near future.
 
Most importantly, we hope that iSeahorse has helped to instill a sense of wonder and compassion for the health of wild seahorses and their ocean homes that are so critical to our planetary well-being. None of what we’ve learned so far would have been possible without our contributors, so many thanks to everyone who posted one of our more than 2000 observations to date.
 
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June 30, 2016

A majestic seagrass inhabitant - Barbour's seahorse. June's featured observation

The iSeahorse featured observation for June comes to us from the island of Negros in the Central Philippines. Anna Pfotenhauer managed to snap this great photo of Barbour’s seahorse (Hippocampus barbouri ) in just 3 metres of water.
 
This majestic-looking species primarily inhabits seagrasses, and like other seahorses it feeds on small crustaceans by sneaking up on them and using its modified mouth and jaws to suck up prey. The species is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as a result of habitat loss and being caught as bycatch in trawl fisheries. Research carried out by Project Seahorse indicates that the species is in substantial decline.
 
It is hoped that programs like iSeahorse will raise awareness of the threats to this and other species so that appropriate conservation actions can take place. Thanks again to Anna for posting this observation!
 

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May 31, 2016

A three-spot seahorse that looks like a zebra! Mays' featured sighting

This spectacular specimen of Hippocampus trimaculatus, commonly known as the three-spot seahorse, was spotted by iSeahorse user Anna Pfotenhauer (aka anna18) off the coast of Negros Island in the Philippines. 

 
Those of you familiar with seahorse species will likely quickly ask ‘But isn’t this Hippocampus zebra? It looks like it has the zebra pattern!” - and it doesn’t seem to have the three spots that give it its common name. So what gives? Well, it turns out that colour, patterns and markings in seahorses can vary widely, both within and between species. Therefore these characteristics don't distinguish between species, and may lead to confusion when identifying seahorses. In addition to H. zebra being only found in Australia (it is endemic to there), there are morphological (form and structure) distinctions between the two. Most notably, H. trimaculatus has cheek spines that are hooked-back and a low coronet, whereas H. zebra has more pronounced conical coronet. And so.... morphology provides a much better set of characters to distinguish among species, than colour or patterns.
 
This becomes important when seahorse management and conservation come into play. For example, Hippocampus trimaculatus is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. If we were to mistake a large number of individuals for this species, we may inadvertently and erroneously find that H. trimaculatusis less threatened than is actually the case, and in turn direct less effort towards the recovery of the species.
 
Thanks again to Anna for her excellent photo observation. We hope that this and other iSeahorse observations lead to more awareness of these magnificent creatures.

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April 30, 2016

Featured Observation: Thorny Seahorse by Nudisusie

This month's iSeahorse featured observation is from Negros in the Philippines. Nudisusie managed to capture this excellent shot of a very pregnant thorny seahorse, Hippocampus histrix . It looks as though he’s just about to give birth to a whole bunch of tiny seahorses.

Seahorses are well-known for male pregnancy. But among fishes they are also quite unique in that they are ovoviviparous, meaning that they give birth to live young. Most other fishes undergo ‘broadcast spawning’, where both males and females release gametes into the water column with the hopes they’ll meet in the currents. Many other species lay eggs and guard them, but seahorses are among the only fish that see the pregnancy through full term. This unique trait makes seahorses especially interesting to biologists studying reproductive biology. Recent research has even shown that the seahorse brood pouch works very similarly to the mammalian (and human) placenta. 

Like many seahorse species, the thorny seahorse is listed on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable as a result of being caught as bycatch and habitat loss. Gaining insight into our own reproductive biology is just one of the many reasons to conserve seahorses. Thanks again to nudisusie for posting!

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March 31, 2016

Featured Observation: Lined Seahorse by katieg628

Our featured observation for March comes to us from West Palm Beach, Florida. This interesting picture was captured by iSeahorse user katieg628. It shows the lined seahorse, Hippocampus erectus, giving birth to many juvenile seahorses. Seahorses and their relatives are among the only fish species to give live birth, as can be seen here in the photo.  
 
Males brood the eggs in their brood pouch and then give birth to live young, which travel into the water column and float with currents for dispersal. 
 
In addition to being lucky enough to catch a live seahorse birth, Katie also unknowingly caught a glimpse of a manatee (Trichechus manatus), which shares habitat with seahorses in the western Atlantic. Both the lined seahorse and the manatee are considered Vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List. Seahorses share their ocean homes with many other important marine species, which is a big part of why Project Seahorse operates under the mantra `Saving seahorses means saving our seas' —  protecting habitat that seahorses depend on also helps protect the homes of countless other species, contributing greatly to the overall health of our oceans and planet. 

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February 3rd, 2016

Featured Observation: New Holland Seahorse by Dunshea Diving

This month’s featured observation comes from New South Wales in southeastern Australia. iSeahorse user dunshea_diving managed to spot and take this great photograph of Hippocampus whitei, the New Holland seahorse.
 
This photo is a great example of something that many find surprising about seahorses – the fact that some species tend to be attracted to and do well on anthropogenic structures (those made by people).  
 
Often times seahorses wind up on shark nets, docks and pilings, shellfish traps, and discarded fishing nets. It’s not yet clear how this behavior affects their reproductive success, but they definitely always try to find something they can easily ‘grab onto’ with their prehensile tails. 
 

The New Holland seahorse is currently listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, although this assessment is outdated. Current efforts by Project Seahorse and the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Seahorse, Pipefish and Stickleback Specialist Group hope to see updated assessments done for all seahorses and their relatives (over 340 species!) by the end of 2016. Observations like this one give us valuable information when assessing the conservation status of these unique fish, and will thereby hopefully contribute to healthier oceans.

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November 16th, 2015

Featured Observation: West Australian Seahorse by Cassy Thompson

This month’s featured observation comes from the coast of Western Australia, where iSeahorse user Cassy Thompson (cassy3) spotted a West Australian or tiger snout seahorse, Hippocampus subelongatus.

The species is only known from Western Australia, and is typically found on the edge of rocky areas, muddy bottoms, areas of high sediment load, jetty piles and moorings. They are often associated with sponges, sea squirts, or attached to man-made objects. One of the identifying features of the species is its striped snout, hence their American name, the tiger snout seahorse.

Not much is known about the species, and it is currently listed as ‘Data Deficient’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Observations like this one from Cassy help expand our knowledge of these mysterious creatures, and enable us to properly assess the conservation status of these lesser-known species.

Thank you Cassy Thompson!

 

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October 28th, 2015

Celebrating two years of seahorse citizen science and conservation

iSeahorse turns two this month! Since its launch in October 2013, our pioneering citizen science and conservation program has inspired new scientific discoveries, increased public awareness, and generated important new protections for seahorses.

 
Thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of our iSeahorse users, we’ve increased the number of people studying and protecting wild seahorses from a few dozen experts to over 1,000 citizen scientists and advocates on five continents. Together we’re building a truly global network for seahorse science and conservation.
 
This is a very good thing for seahorse populations all over the world.
 
Since the launch, we’ve received over 1,600 wild observations of a total of nearly 2,500 animals. More than 15% of all observations have occurred outside the known range of the given species. In other words, iSeahorse is changing what we know about where different seahorse species live in the world. This affects how we study and how we protect them.
 
The many out-of-range tiger tail seahorse (H. comes) sightings we’ve received, for example, have caused us to rethink that species’ range. There are others: Lenny Kim spotted a weedy pygmy seahorse (H. pontohi) for the first time ever in the Philippines, while Nedia Coutinho discovered a lined seahorse (H. erectus) in Canadian waters for the first time in decades. Both observations received coverage in national media and helped educate the public about the issues.
 
Even more importantly, iSeahorse is generating action for seahorses. 
 
This map illustrates the range expansion suggested by iSeahorse observations for the tiger tail seahorse (H. comes). Blue dots represent iSeahorse observations for the species, and pink shading represents the previously known range. The range is now thought to extend almost 1000 km further northwest than originally thought, into areas that face pressures from fishing and tourism. Riley Pollom/Project Seahorse 
 
 
We’ve recruited 10 dedicated seahorse population monitors in nine countries around the world — Thailand, Cambodia, Spain, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Korea, Australia, Philippines, and United Arab Emirates. They are tracking the health of local populations over time and monitoring threats. They are poised to raise the alarm for action when there are sudden changes in local seahorse numbers or habitats — an early global warning system for seahorse conservation.
 
We’re also thrilled to announce that iSeahorse has prompted the creation of a marine protected area (MPA) in Bohol, Philippines, adding to Project Seahorse's total of 35 in the region. Our team is still working out the details, so stay tuned for more news very soon.
 
As we embark on year three of this ambitious venture, we here at Project Seahorse would like to thank all of our citizen scientists, conservationists and everyone who supports iSeahorse for your amazing dedication. We’re also grateful for the support of Guylian Belgian Chocolate, our major sponsor, as well as our partners - the University of British Columbia, Zoological Society of London, John G. Shedd Aquarium, and Whitley Fund for Nature.
 
Together, we’ll make sure that these mysterious and important animals are healthy and thriving the world over.

 

September 30th, 2015

Featured Observation: High-crowned seahorse by Bonnie Waycott

This month’s featured observation is a first for iSeahorse. While shore diving off of Oki Island in the Sea of Japan, iSeahorse user Bonnie Waycott managed to spot a seahorse that had not yet been reported to our database – the high-crowned seahorse, Hippocampus coronatus.

So far the species has only been found off of Japan and South Korea. It lives in coastal areas dominated by seagrasses and sargassum algae. Like their other seahorse relatives, H. coronatus feeds on tiny planktonic crustaceans.

Very little is known about the species, and it is listed on the IUCN Red List as Data Deficient.  Observations like this from iSeahorse contributors like Bonnie continue to reveal new information about seahorses. With the help of this information we can better protect seahorses, the ocean habitats they live in, and the other species they share their home with.

Thanks to Bonnie for the submission!

 

August 31st, 2015

Featured Observation: Japanese seahorse by Richard Smith

We wrap up the summer with another seahorse observed in Japanese waters. Richard Smith (Richis2000) was on a dive trip to an area southwest of Tokyo where he spotted the Japanese seahorse (Hippocampus mohnikei). 
 
Japan tends to be the furthest north that seahorses of any species are found in the Pacific. Further north colder waters and prevailing currents keep seahorses from establishing resident populations.
 
Seahorses in Japan include this species and several others, namely Hippocampus sindonis, H. coronatus, H. trimaculatus, H. bargibanti H. kuda, H. kelloggi, and H. histrix. This wide range of species makes Japan a hotspot for seahorse species diversity, likely only surpassed by the Coral Triangle area further to the south. 
 
The Japanese seahorse is substantially smaller than many seahorses, though still larger than the pygmies. Very little is known about the species, and therefore it is listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Observations like this one from Richard help us better understand ranges and habitat use, and therefore enable us to properly assess the conservation status of the species.  
 
Thanks Richard!
 

July 31st, 2015

Featured Observation: Shiho's seahorse by Honutomo

July’s iSeahorse observation of the month was spotted in Sagami Bay, Japan, just southwest of Tokyo. iSeahorse user Honutomo spotted a Shiho’s seahorse (Hippocampus sindonis) on a dive in an area with seagrass. 
 
Originally described in 1901, very little is known about the species or its habitat. iSeahorse observations that describe where seahorses are spotted and what type of habitat they live in are crucial for efforts to preserve them.  Honutomo has made several observations of Shiho’s seahorse, all in either seagrass or coral.  
 
Although the species is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, seagrasses and corals are under threat due to climate change and the species’ status may change as a result.  Knowing that Shiho’s seahorse lives in these vulnerable habitats helps focus conservation efforts in the right areas. 
 
Thanks to Honutomo for contributing! 
 

June 26th, 2015

Featured Observation: Bargibant's pygmy seahorse by Heng Pei Yan

June’s featured observation comes from Lembeh Strait, Indonesia, where Heng Pei Yan spotted this ethereal-looking Bargibant’s pygmy seahorse (H. bargibanti) on a seafan at a depth of about 22 metres.

Making its home among gorgonian corals as shallow as 16 metres and as deep as 40, H. bargibanti is found in southeast Asia, sometimes in colonies of five, ten, or even fifteen animals.

So if you spot one of these little seahorses (they grow only to about 2 cm) in the wild, be sure to keep looking. You might spot many more!

Very little is known about the threats to H. bargibanti. The species is listed as 'Vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
 
Thanks to Heng Pei Yan for posting!

P.S. As always, don't forget to check out our Action page for some ideas about how to take seahorse conservation to the next level.
 

May 29th, 2015

Featured Observation: Common seahorse by Victoria Carberry

May's observation of the month comes from Negros, Philippines. Victoria_carberry spotted this common seahorse (Hippocampus kuda) on a sandy bottom.

Making its home in shallow waters up to eight metres deep, H. kuda is found in seagrass beds, mangrove forests, muddy bottoms, and shallow reef flats everywhere from the Pacific, through Asia, all the way to the Middle East. Despite its large natural range, the species faces numerous threats. It's one of the most-traded species for traditional Chinese medicine, aquarium display, and curios.
 
Other threats include incidental catch by trawlers and other fisheries and by habitat destruction caused by coastal development. It's listed as 'Vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
 
Thanks to Victoria for posting!
 

April 22nd, 2015

Featured Observation: Spiny seahorse by brucesub

Our April iSeahorse observation of the month comes from northeastern Bali, Indonesia. Brucesub was able to capture this amazing photograph of a spiny seahorse (Hippocampus histrix) at about 10 metres deep.
 
H. histrix is known to inhabit coral and seagrasses throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans.  Despite its large natural range, the species is often incidentally caught as bycatch in trawlers. This, in combination with increasing pressures on coral and seagrass habitats globally, is sufficient to warrant a listing of 'Vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
 
Thanks to brucesub for posting!
 
 
 

April 2nd, 2015

Featured Observation: Hedgehog seahorse by Rahul M.

March's featured observation is from Koh Tao, Thailand. It was made by Media-Aspidea, a.k.a. Rahul M., who has quite a knack for nature photography as you can see in his shot of the hedgehog seahorse, Hippocampus spinosissimus.  
 
This species is often found in muddy or silty habitats, in deeper waters than most other seahorse species.  Data such as the depth and habitat seahorses are observed at help us understand how these fish interact with their environment, and inform our efforts to protect such species through protected area design and sustainable fishing practices. This is important because the hedgehog seahorse tends to get caught as bycatch in trawls, and as a result is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List
 
Thanks to Media-Aspidea for contributing this information. We hope that this information reported by iSeahorse users can help us to get the hedgehog seahorse and other species away from the IUCN Red List’s threatened categories and into a situation where its population is stable and healthy. 
 

March 9th, 2015

Featured Observation: Tiger tail seahorse by Gideon Heller-Wagner

February's featured observation comes from Gideon Heller-Wagner of Hidden Depths Diving.
 
Gideon spotted a tiger-tail seahorse (Hippocampus comes) in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand. It’s a great photo that really displays the seahorse using its coral reef habitat. 
 
The tiger-tail seahorse is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, and is threatened because it is caught as bycatch in shrimp trawl nets throughout its range. In addition, the species’ habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds are threatened from coastal development, pollution and climate change.
 
In order to help monitor seahorse populations over time in the face of such threats, iSeahorse is now making efforts to recruit trends monitors. These dedicated seahorse surveyors can revisit sites repeatedly in order to give us an idea of how seahorse populations fluctuate through the year and whether they are declining or not. This data can then be used in conservation assessments and for informing policy. 
 
Thanks again to Gideon for posting. We hope that efforts such as these will help to engage citizens in protecting seahorses and their ocean homes.
 

March 1st, 2015

iSeahorse bugs fixed

We're happy to report that the iSeahorse website and iPhone app are up and running and bug-free again. If you've got seahorse sightings or want to help with species IDs, we're ready for you!
 

February 26th, 2015

Technical issues (update)

Owing to some maintenance work, we're continuing to experience some technical difficulties with the iSeahorse.org website and iPhone app.
 
We're working hard to fix the bugs and launch new and improved versions of both. In the meantime, you can still upload your seahorse sightings, ID species, and view sightings maps via our iSeahorse page on iNaturalist and using your smartphone via the iNaturalist app. (For instructions on how to use the iNat app click here.)
 
Thanks very much for your patience. We're hugely grateful for your support of iSeahorse and hope you'll continue to log your valuable seahorse sightings!
 

January 29th, 2015

Featured Observation: Denise’s Pygmy Seahorse by ajeffrey

The first iSeahorse Feature Observation of 2015 comes to us from user ajeffrey, who was diving in Komodo National Park. Located in southern Indonesia, the park is apparently a hotspot for pygmy seahorses (recall our July 2014 Feature Observation of multiple Bargibant’s Pygmy seahorses).

Denise’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus denise) is so small and well-camouflaged that it was only formally described in 2003. Like other pygmy seahorses, this species is associated with coral hosts that it mimics in appearance. Similar in size and stature to Bargibant's pygmy seahorse, recent research has shown that this species is much less faithful to a single host species and can take up residence on a number of different corals. It also appears to behave more promiscuously than its closest relative.

As would be expected for a recently described species, scientists have thus far obtained very little information about Denise’s pygmy seahorse (the species is listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List). We hope that this and many more sightings like it on iSeahorse will contribute to a better understanding of these amazing tiny creatures.

January 8th, 2015

Technical difficulties with the 'iSeahorse Explore' app for iPhone

Please note that the iSeahorse app for iPhone is experiencing some functionality issues with the newest version of iOS. We're working to fix this bug as soon as possible.

If you're using iOS 8.1 or higher, we recommend uploading your seahorse observations to iSeahorse via the iNaturalist app for iPhone.

For instructions on how to upload your observations to iSeahorse via the iNat app, visit our Apps page and scroll down to the Android section. (The procedure is the same for both iPhone and Android.)

Thanks for your understanding! We'll have an update soon.
 

January 6th, 2015

Udemy screncap

New online training course on seahorse population monitoring

Great news for those who want to take seahorse citizen science to the next level: We've just launched a free online training course that teaches you how to do long-term monitoring of wild seahorse populations. 

Seahorse trends monitors are an important part of citizen science, as the data you collect can be used to map population and habitat changes over time, identify threats, and kickstart conservation action. 

Check it out!

 
 
 
 
 

December 3rd, 2014

Featured observation: Jayakar’s Seahorse by lewis1990

Our November featured observation on iSeahorse comes from the Arabian coast of the Red Sea at Jeddah harbor. It’s a surprising place to spot a seahorse – a bustling metropolis of over 5 million and the largest port in the Red Sea.

Lewis1990 spotted this small Jayakar’s seahorse Hippocampus jayakari in shallow water while beachcombing after a storm. It marks the fourth observation of the species in iSeahorse, but we still know very little about the species. It is listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List, and no direct studies have been done on this species of seahorse.

The Red Sea is the world’s northernmost tropical sea and is home to a variety of corals and other unique marine life. Observations like this help us gain a better understanding of the Red Sea and give us insight into how best to conserve it.

Thanks to Lewis for his contribution to citizen science and seahorses!

{C}

 

September 8th, 2014

Improvements to iSeahorse

Dear iSeahorse friends,

Thanks to your feedback, we've made some improvements to iSeahorse.org! Starting tomorrow (Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2014) you'll notice a few subtle changes to the website, including:

  • Social media login — you can now log into the website using Facebook or Google+
  • Permalinks for individual seahorse observations — you can now share seahorse observations more easily with colleagues and friends
  • 'Research grade' and 'ID please!' markers to make navigating observations easier
  • Increased data security
  • Faster-loading maps and lists

...and more. This is all part of an ongoing development process to make iSeahorse as robust and user-friendly as possible. Stay tuned for even bigger changes and improvements in the coming months.

Please be advised that iSeahorse.org will be down for 1-2 hours around 7 p.m. Pacific Time this evening (Sep. 7). You'll still be able to submit your sightings via the iSeahorse project page on iNaturalist.

If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact us at iseahorse@projectseahorse.org.

Best regards,

The iSeahorse Team

{C}

August 29th, 2014

Featured observation: Long-snouted Seahorse by melitab

Our latest featured observation has been contributed by melitab who was diving in the Adriatic Sea in Italy. Situated in the northeastern-most corner of the country, the coastal areas of Italy’s Fruili-Venezia Guilia region have long been the crossroads of western civilization, with ports having been utilized since pre-Roman times. Apparently in addition to being a boon for trade by humans, the area is also home to seahorses.

Melita took this great photo of the long-snout seahorse, Hippocampus guttulatus, on a dive back in March. Although the species inhabits the Mediterannean – one of the biggest diving attractions and most studied bodies of water in the world, we still know very little about how wild populations of the long-snouted seahorse are faring. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists this seahorse as Data Deficient.

Along with our partners, Project Seahorse is making it a priority to ensure we have enough information to perform proper conservation assessments of all seahorse species. We are currently in the test phase of a trends monitoring program that should allow us to understand the threats facing these creatures better. If you or anyone you know dives in a particular region regularly and is interesting in contributing to this endeavor please do let us know.

Thanks to Melita for her contribution to seahorse research and conservation!!

{C}

July 21st, 2014

Featured observation: Sea Pony by shamsa_alhameli

The next featured observation comes from the United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf. iSeahorse contributor shamsa_alhameli managed to spot a sea pony (Hippocampus fuscus) in a seagrass bed. And she managed to snap a great photo in the process!

But it wasn’t just any seagrass bed that this seahorse was found in. In fact, this seahorse has little to worry about as these waters are part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – the Marawah Biosphere Reserve. Designated in 2007, the reserve is home to a wide variety of important marine habitats, including coral reefs, mangroves, unique macroalgae outcrops. The area is a crucial nursery and spawning grounds for many fish species in addition to seahorses, and is also home to endangered hawksbill and green turtles. Not to mention it’s the second largest aggregation of dugongs in the world.

The sea pony is currently listed as ‘Data Deficient’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. We hope that this and more observations like it will give us enough information to perform a proper conservation assessment of the species in the near future. Thanks for contributing to science and marine conservation shamsa_alhameli!


{C}

July 4th, 2014

Featured observation: Barbigant's pygmy seahorse by maractwin

Our latest featured observation comes to us from Indonesia’s Flores Sea. iSeahorse user maractwin (aka Mark Rosenstein) spotted a group of five Bargibant’s pygmy seahorses, Hippocampus bargibanti. This is no small feat, considering just how well-camouflaged these creatures are against their gorgonian coral homes. Then again you would expect a keen eye from such an avid naturalist – in addition to his 19 observations of six different seahorse species, Mark has logged over 9000 observations of almost 3000 species on iNaturalist!

Spotted by Mark off of Banta Island near Komodo National Park (an epicenter of marine fish and seahorse diversity), these pygmy seahorses are some of the smallest in the world, reaching a maximum length of only about three centimetres! Males brood their young on their trunk rather than just below it like most seahorse species.

This species is listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because very few studies have focused on them to date. iSeahorse observations like this one will help us properly assess the species in the near future as we find out more about it.

Great work Mark – keep those observations coming!!


{C}

May 21st, 2014

Featured observation: lined seahorse by uwdistribution

Our new feature observation comes to us from further north than most seahorse species live. Hippocampus erectus, also known as the lined seahorse , has been observed by uwdistribution in St. Margaret’s Bay near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

This location is likely north of the species’ normal range, as it is not usually observed in the area. It has not been spotted this far north since 2000, and prior to that since 1989. A rare sighting indeed! It is thought that some individual seahorses of this species occasionally travel north via the Gulf Stream current from their homes further south to end up in Nova Scotia.

The northern seahorse is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, and has seen population declines as a result of the aquarium trade, the degradation of its coastal seagrass habitat, and being caught as incidental bycatch in shrimp trawl fisheries.

Thanks to uwdistribution for contributing this rare observation.


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April 8th, 2014

Featured observation: Slender seahorse by kbodle

This week’s feature observation takes us to the sunny southern Caribbean. kbodle managed to snag this great pic of the slender seahorse, Hippocampus reidi in the coastal waters of Bonaire, an island nation off the Venezuelan coast.

The slender seahorse is a fairly large species, growing to a height of about 17cm. It ranges from North Carolina in the USA all the way to Brazil in South America. Pictured in association with a sponge here, these seahorses have also been known to hang out around gorgonian corals, seagrasses, mangroves and seaweed. They typically form monogamous pair bonds with their mate.

The IUCN Red List describes the slender seahorse as being Data Deficient, so there is much left to be learned about the species.

Thanks to kbodle for helping us to further our knowledge of this interesting fish!

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April 8th, 2014

Featured observation: Weedy pygmy seahorse by kati-romblon

Our new featured observation comes to us from kati-romblon, who snapped this great pic of the weedy pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi) in Romblon, Phillipines. kati-romblon is looking like a rather proliferate user, having posted 12 observations of 5 species already!

The weedy pygmy seahorse is a species that inhabits algae and soft corals among the Indo-Pacific islands. Being one of the smallest species, it grows only to a maximum of 1.4 centimetres and so is very tough to spot in the water.

As a result of its small stature and cryptic nature, the species was only discovered in 2008. Scientists do not currently have enough information to know how well the species is doing, and so it is listed as ‘Data Deficient’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Observations like these will help us to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the weedy pygmy seahorse, thereby enabling us to protect it and its ocean home.

Thanks for the observation kati-romblon!

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March 4th, 2014

Featured observation: Giraffe seahorse

Every few weeks we're going to be highlighting a new and noteworthy seahorse observation.

This week’s featured observation comes to us from hdarrin, who managed to snag a photo of a giraffe seahorse (Hippocampus camelopardalis) in Inhambane Bay, Mozambique.

H. camelopardalis makes its home along the southeast coast of Africa from Tanzania to western South Africa. It lives in seagrass, algal beds, and on shallow reefs. The species is traded heavily in Tanzania as a curio, but is listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, as very little is known about it.

This and other future observations of the Giraffe Seahorse on iSeahorse will be used by scientists and conservationsists to get a better idea about its biology and geographic distribution, and will hopefully help to inform decisions about the management of its ocean habitat.

Thanks for the observation hdarrin!

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Dec 10th, 2013

Featured observation: Knobby seahorse

iSeahorse's first featured observation comes from tamiw, who spotted this short-head or knobby seahorse (Hippocampus breviceps) near Melbourne, Australia.

H. breviceps is endemic to Australia and makes its home on sponge reef, sargassum, and rocky reef in deeper water. Its maximum recorded adult height is 10 cm and the males have tails proportionally longer than the females.

The species is currently listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, meaning we do not yet have enough information about H. breviceps to determine its conservation status.

Thanks, tamiw, for your observation!


Nov 20th, 2013

The results so far...

It's been just about eight weeks since the official launch of iSeahorse. Collectively, as citizen scientists, we've logged 173 seahorse observations in just about every corner of the world, from Africa to Australia, South America to Asia, and beyond.

Most promisingly, there have been observations of 23 different seahorse species, including some rarely seen ones such as the West African seahorse (Hippocampus algiricus), Reunion seahorse (H. borboniensis), Severnsi’s pygmy seahorse (H. severnsi), short-head seahorse (H. breviceps), and the sea pony (H. fuscus).

Your data and stunning photos will prove very useful as the iSeahorse and Project Seahorse teams continue their work on seahorse conservation.

Thanks to everyone who has joined iSeahorse so far, and please be sure to encourage your friends and colleagues to join as well! Special congratulations go out to iSeahorse user davidr, who leads all contributors with 16 observations and 5 different species sighted. Great work!


Oct 17th, 2013

Observation map issue

We're currently experiencing minor technical issues with our observation map. For most of today, you may find that the map does load properly. We're working on a fix and should have everything running smoothly very soon.

In the meantime, you can still upload your sightings. They will be saved to the database and viewable on the map when it is back online. Thanks for your patience.

UPDATE: The map issue is fixed!


Oct 15th, 2013

Off to a roaring start

Just a quick note of thanks to everyone who has joined iSeahorse and contributed observations so far. The iSeahorse team is thrilled with the amazing response so far and we'll be doing our best to help with all the species IDs for your sightings.

Don't forget that you can do the same: You can help identify species by clicking the ID button at the bottom of any individual observation. We have two different ID guides that will help with identification.


Sep 25th, 2013

How to edit your profile

We're still ironing out some of the features on iSeahorse.org. Currently, you can edit your username, password, and biography using the edit function in your 'My iSeahorse' console in the right-hand column of the website.

However, if you would like to add/change your profile picture, your time zone, or your email alerts, please visit iNaturalist.org.

Log in using your iSeahorse username and password and you will be able to edit your profile via the dashboard tool. The changes take effect immediately on iSeahorse.org.

Having trouble? Drop us a line at iseahorse@projectseahorse.org.


Sep 24th, 2013

Welcome to the new iSeahorse.org: Getting started

We're pleased to launch the brand-new iSeahorse website today. What is iSeahorse? Simply put, it's a tool for seahorse science and conservation.Whether you’re a diver, or a fisher, or a scientist, or a seahorse enthusiast, we need your help!

 

iSeahorse harnesses the power of ‘citizen scientists’ — anyone, anywhere in the world who sees a seahorse in the wild — to improve our understanding of seahorses and protect them from overfishing and other threats.

You can upload your photos and observations. You can help identify seahorse species. You can advocate for their protection in your ocean neighbourhood.

To get started, create an iSeahorse account today.

Scientists from Project Seahorse and seahorse experts around the world will use your vital information to better understand seahorse behaviour, species ranges, and the threats seahorses face. We will use this knowledge to improve seahorse conservation across the globe.

For iSeahorse users involved during the beta-testing phase of the website, you'll notice that the our seahorse observation tools and database are now powered by iNaturalist, one of the most sophisticated and powerful citizen science tools on the web. Within the next few days, you will receive an email explaining the changes and what this means for your existing observations data. Drop us a line if you have any questions or concerns in the meantime: iseahorse@projectseahorse.org

Thanks for visiting! We hope to see you around the site.


Sep 23rd, 2013

Changes at iSeahorse

Just a heads up to current iSeahorse members on iNaturalist: Next week we'll be launching www.iseahorse.org, our standalone citizen science site with iNaturalist.org integration. This means that you'll be able to submit your observations via either iSeahorse or iNaturalist and they will be added to the iNaturalist database and maps. We will launch a dedicated iSeahorse app for iPhone in the coming weeks as well.

More info to follow very soon.

May 31, 2016

A three-spot seahorse that looks like a zebra! Mays' featured sighting

This spectacular specimen of Hippocampus trimaculatus, commonly known as the three-spot seahorse, was spotted by iSeahorse user Anna Pfotenhauer (aka anna18) off the coast of Negros Island in the Philippines. 

 

August 31, 2016

2000+ observations on iSeahorse!

H. bargibanti. Photo by sorcrs.Great news – this summer we reached our 2000th seahorse observation on iSeahorse.
 
Observation 2000 is one of Hippocampus bargibanti, Bargibant’s pygmy seahorse. It comes to us from one of the hotspots for iSeahorse contributions, the northeastern tip of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Posted by iSeahorse user sorcrs, it’s a great shot of the pygmy seahorse on its obligate host gorgonian coral.