Short-snouted seahorse

Scientific name: Hippocampus hippocampus
One of 2 seahorses found in UK seas, short snouted seahorses are recognisable by their shorter snout - surprisingly enough!

Species information

Statistics

Length: 15cm

Conservation status

The short snouted seahorse is currently unlisted on the IUCN Red List due to deficient data (DD), but was previously listed as Vunerable (VU). In the UK, it is a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. They are a Feature of Conservation Importance for which Marine Conservation Zones can be designated.

When to see

January to December

About

Short snouted seahorses are found in shallow waters, often in estuaries or associated with seagrass meadows. They have even recently been recorded in the Thames! They use their prehensive tail to cling onto seagrass or seaweed, as they are pretty poor swimmers. They don't have teeth and simply suck up their favourite prey of small shrimp and plankton. Seahorses are known to practice monogamy, though we no longer think that they mate for life. They are usually brownish in colour and lack the fleshy "mane" seen in the Spiny Seahorse. Seahorses are a type of fish and are related to Pipefish and Sea Dragons.

How to identify

As the name suggests this seahorse has a short, upturned snout, less than 1/3 the length of the head. The distinctive body with its head, angled to the curved body is finished with a curled, prehensile tail. Unlike other seahorses, the short snouted seahorse does not have a mane. The colour varies from light brown to mottled purple.

Distribution

Along the south coast of England

Did you know?

Seahorses are the only animal with a true reversed pregnancy! The female transfers the eggs to the male who self fertilises them; he keeps them in his brood pouch, before giving birth to live young called fry.

How people can help

Never buy a seahorse as a pet, less than 1% of captured seahorses last longer than 6 weeks. Avoid buying any souvenirs with dried sea creatures such as seahorses, starfish or coral as many of these are now endangered species. If you see any shops selling these, please report it to illegaltrade@theseahorsetrust.org. Avoid any traditional medicines that include endangered or slow-growing species. If yachting, always use mooring balls or eco-moorings where they are available. Our seas and coastline are in need of protection if we are to keep our marine wildlife healthy. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. In England, Marine Conservation Zones are being proposed to protect seahorses - you can add your support to our campaign by signing up to become a Friend of Marine Conservation Zones: wildlifetrusts.org/mczfriends