Short snouted seahorse
The scientific name of seahorses is
Hippocampus, which translates as ‘horse caterpillar’ or
They live in shallow water in beds of
seagrass and seaweeds, so their distribution generally depends on
the presence of these plants. In winter, it is thought that
seahorses move into deeper water to escape rough seas, and they
have been recorded from depths of 75m. Short snouted
seahorses tend to be found in slightly shallower water than their
long snouted relatives.
Seahorses use their tails to anchor themselves
to the stems of the plants, and are extremely well
camouflaged. This helps protect them from predators, as do
the bony plates beneath their skins. Very few animals can get
their teeth into the body armour of an adult seahorse, although
they are the prey of large fish, crabs and seagulls. Seahorses
themselves eat tiny shrimps. They have no teeth, and use
their snout to suck their food straight into their
Seahorses form faithful partnerships with
their mates, but recent research suggests this is not necessarily
for life. Uniquely, it is the male who becomes pregnant and gives
birth to the young, after the female transfers her eggs to a pouch
on his stomach.
Globally, seahorses are used in traditional Asian medicine, in a
trade that takes millions of animals each year. They are also sold
dried as curios and taken live for the aquarium trade.
Aquarium collection did occur in Weymouth Bay and the Channel
Islands but is now prohibited.
Short snouted seahorses are found in the extreme south of
England and the Channel Islands. In Europe, they occur on Atlantic
coasts from the Wadden Sea to Portugal, in the Black Sea, and in
the Mediterranean, where they are given extra protection under the
Bern and Barcelona Conventions.
is a UK BAP Priority Species (BAP species are now Species of Principal Importance/Priority
- On the OSPAR list of threatened and/or declining species and
- Species of principal importance for the purpose of conservation
of biodiversity under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities
Act 2006 in England.
- Protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act
- Protected under Annex II of CITES (Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species).
- Protected under Appendix II of the Bern Convention.
JNCC - UK BAP Priority
Species and Habitats
OSPAR List of Threatened and/or Declining Species and
Background Document for the short-snouted seahorse -
Hippocampus hippocampus - update
Life Information Network
Marine Species Identification Portal
World Register of Marine Species