Long snouted seahorse
Seahorses are bony fish and belong to the
same family as seadragons and pipefish. Two kinds of seahorse
can be found in UK waters, and can be differentiated by the length
of their snouts. The long snout of this particular seahorse
is more than one third of the length of its head. The
tube-like snout, which has no teeth, acts like a vacuum cleaner for
food, sucking up tiny shrimps.
Seahorses live in shallow beds of seagrass
and seaweeds, swimming upright with their long tails wrapped around
the plant stems, which helps them to avoid being swept away by
Instead of scales, seahorses have skin
stretched over a series of bony plates, which are visible as rings
around the body. This bony armour helps protect them, and there are
few animals that eat adult seahorses.
Seahorses are also protected by their
excellent camouflage, but this does make finding and studying them
more of a challenge.
We know that seahorses form faithful pairs for
at least the duration of the breeding season, and are unique in the
animal kingdom in that it is the male seahorse who carries the
developing young. The female transfers her eggs into a pouch
on his stomach, where they are fertilised, and the pouch
sealed. The male gives birth to fully formed young about
three weeks later.
Globally, there is a huge trade in seahorses for traditional
Asian medicine and as curios and in the aquarium trade. Their
collection from UK waters is prohibited.
Other common names
Long snouted seahorses have been found in southern Norfolk,
Essex, south-eastern England, along the south coast up around parts
of Wales and on up the west coast of Scotland to the Shetland
Isles. The UK and west coast of Ireland represent the
northerly limit of the seahorse’s range: it is found on Atlantic
coasts as far south as Morocco and in the Mediterranean.
- This is a UK BAP Priority Species (BAP species are now
Species of Principal Importance/Priority
- This is on the OSPAR list of threatened and/or declining
species and habitats.
- Species of principal importance for the purpose of conservation
of biodiversity under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities
- Protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act
- Protected under Annex II of CITES (the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species)
JNCC - UK BAP Priority
Species and Habitats
OSPAR List of Threatened and/or Declining Species and
OSPAR Commission –
Background Document for the Long-snouted seahorse - Hippocampus
guttulatus - updated 2013
Life Information Network
World Register of Marine Species