Short-Snouted Seahorse - Hippocampus hippocampus
Status: Data Deficient … Its eyes can move independently of one another, allowing it excellent vision
Location: Around the coasts of Britain, particularly the south and west, to the Mediterranean and the western coast of north Africa. Sub-tropical to temperate coastal waters on the eastern edge of the Atlantic.
Size: Up to 15cm
Habitat: Seaweed and seagrass beds in shallower waters (up to 60m).
More information is needed to understand how threatened seahorses are in UK waters. Seahorses are occasionally caught as bycatch in fishing nets, while some seagrass habitat is under threat from development and anchoring damage.
Two of the 27 recently-designated Marine Conservation Zones in English seas were set up to protect short-snouted seahorses and their habitats.
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 used to occur in Weymouth Bay and the Channel Islands but seahorses are now protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Seahorses are not fast swimmers - their small, delicate fins propel them, but they use their prehensile tails to help them move through their complex habitats. Despite its unconventional appearance, the short snouted sea horse is a type of fish and is related to pipefish and sea dragons. Its snout is only a third of its head length and has two prominent ‘horns’ above its eyes.
Did you know?
- They are faithful to their partners - although not necessarily for life.
- They use their tails to anchor themselves to plants.
- Using its short snout, it sucks up plankton such as copepods and other small crustaceans and is incredibly stealthy in its ambush.
- It’s the males that carry the eggs and young in their bellies and birth contractions can last up to 12 hours!
What MCS is doing:
- Campaigning for more - and better management of - marine protected areas to protect seahorses and their habitats from damaging activities;
- Campaigning for better water quality in UK seas, including at inshore seahorse habitats;
- Finding out more about seahorses and their habitats through our Seasearch programme.