First Pygmy Seahorse to be found in Indian Ocean
The African or Sodwana Bay pygmy seahorse © Richard Smith - OceanRealmImages.com
Researchers have discovered a pygmy seahorse in South Africa. The other known seven species of pygmy seahorse come from either the Coral Triangle or one from Japan.
The discovery is the first time the species has been found in the continent of Africa and in the Indian Ocean.
'It's like finding a kangaroo in Norway,' said Richard Smith, a marine biologist based in the United Kingdom and co-author of a new study on the species, known as the African or Sodwana Bay pygmy seahorse.
The new species named Hippocampus nalu appears similar to other pygmy seahorses, except that it has one set of spines on its back that have sharp, incisor-like points on the tips.
The discovery has extended the known range of pygmy seahorse by more than 8,000 kilometres from where the other examples were discovered in the Central and Eastern Indo-Pacific ocean.
Savannah Nalu Olivier, a dive instructor from Pisces Diving in Sodwana Bay, South Africa, during the course of a dive with beginners, observed and photographed multiple individuals of the diminutive seahorse on a flat, sandy-algal reef in 2017. Subsequent investigation revealed that these diminutive seahorses, although similar to H. pontohi and H. japapigu in appearance and colouration, differed markedly in a number of characters, and represent a new species and the first confirmed record of a true pygmy seahorse from South Africa, the African continent, and the Indian Ocean.