Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

In shallow, weedy inshore areas and Zostera seagrass beds; also on sponges. Also under jetties on holdfasts of kelp, and on other man-made structures such as shark nets. Diurnal and site faithful (Ref. 30915). Ovoviviparous (Ref. 205). The male carries the eggs in a brood pouch which is found under the tail (Ref. 205).
  • Lourie, S.A., A.C.J. Vincent and H.J. Hall 1999 Seahorses: an identification guide to the world's species and their conservation. Project Seahorse, London. 214 p. (Ref. 30915)
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Distribution

Range Description

A single specimen was found in the Solomon Islands, which is outside the probable normal range of this species (Lourie et al. 1999).
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Australia: New South Wales.
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Southwest Pacific: Solomon Islands and Australia. Records from southern Mozambique and Natal, South Africa are misidentifications of Hippocampus camelopardalis. International trade is monitored through a licensing system (CITES II, since 5.15.04) and a minimum size of 10 cm applies.
  • Lourie, S.A., A.C.J. Vincent and H.J. Hall 1999 Seahorses: an identification guide to the world's species and their conservation. Project Seahorse, London. 214 p. (Ref. 30915)
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 16 - 17; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 4
  • Lourie, S.A., A.C.J. Vincent and H.J. Hall 1999 Seahorses: an identification guide to the world's species and their conservation. Project Seahorse, London. 214 p. (Ref. 30915)
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Size

Max. size

13.0 cm OT (male/unsexed; (Ref. 30915)); max. reported age: 5 years (Ref. 93066)
  • Harasti, D., K. Martin-Smith and W. Gladstone 2012 Population dynamics and life history of a geographically restricted seahorse, hippocampus whitei. J. Fish Biol. 81:1297-1314. (Ref. 93066)
  • Lourie, S.A., A.C.J. Vincent and H.J. Hall 1999 Seahorses: an identification guide to the world's species and their conservation. Project Seahorse, London. 214 p. (Ref. 30915)
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Maximum size: 130 mm OT
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Diagnostic Description

Description: (based on 31 specimens): Adult height: 6.0-13.0cm. Rings: 11+35 (32-36). Snout length: 2.3 (2.0-2.7) in head length. Dorsal fin rays: 18 (16-20) covering 2+1 rings.Pectoral fin rays: 16-17 (15-18). Coronet: high, inclined backwards with seven sharp angles or points at top. Spines: variable, low to moderately developed and rounded to quite sharp. Other distinctive characters: long snout; prominent, sharp eye spines; single or double cheek spines; head quite narrow. Color pattern: dull greyish brown to yellow; often mottled brown with a net-like pattern of reticulating dark lines; may have ‘saddles’ of paler color across dorsolateral surface.
  • Lourie, S.A., A.C.J. Vincent and H.J. Hall 1999 Seahorses: an identification guide to the world's species and their conservation. Project Seahorse, London. 214 p. (Ref. 30915)
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Hippocampus whitei are found to depths of 25 m in shallow, weedy, inshore areas, in Zostera spp. seagrass beds, on sponges, and often under jetties on kelp holdfasts (Kuiter 1997). They are also found on manmade objects such as shark nets (A.C.J. Vincent, pers. obs.). Hippocampus whitei breed from October to April. Within this breeding season, they are site-faithful to a home range (averaging 8 m² for males, 12 m² for females: Vincent et al. in review) and are faithful to a single mate (Vincent and Sadler 1995).

This species may be particularly susceptible to decline. The limited information on habitat suggests they inhabit shallow sea-grass beds (Kuiter 1997) that are susceptible to human degradation, as well as making them susceptible to being caught as bycatch. All seahorse species have vital parental care, and many species studied to date have high site fidelity (Perante et al. 2002, Vincent et al. in review), highly structured social behaviour (Vincent and Sadler 1995), and relatively sparse distributions (Lourie et al. 1999). The importance of life history parameters in determining response to exploitation has been demonstrated for a number of species (Jennings et al. 1998).

Systems
  • Marine
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Depth: 1 - 46m.
From 1 to 46 meters.

Habitat: demersal.
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Environment

demersal; non-migratory; marine; depth range 1 - 46 m (Ref. 4281), usually 1 - 25 m (Ref. 30915)
  • Dawson, C.E. 1986 Syngnathidae. p. 445-458. In M.M. Smith and P.C. Heemstra (eds.) Smiths' sea fishes. Springer-Verlag, Berlin. (Ref. 4281)
  • Lourie, S.A., A.C.J. Vincent and H.J. Hall 1999 Seahorses: an identification guide to the world's species and their conservation. Project Seahorse, London. 214 p. (Ref. 30915)
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Depth range based on 1 specimen in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1 sample.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 57 - 57
  Temperature range (°C): 25.235 - 25.235
  Nitrate (umol/L): 2.844 - 2.844
  Salinity (PPS): 35.241 - 35.241
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.133 - 4.133
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.431 - 0.431
  Silicate (umol/l): 4.853 - 4.853
 
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Trophic Strategy

Found in inshore waters (Ref. 75154). Also occurs among sponges (Ref. 52034).
  • Foster, S.J. and A.C.J. Vincent 2004 Life history and ecology of seahorses: implications for conservation and management. J. Fish Biol. 65:1-61. (Ref. 52034)
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Gestation period 21-22 days depending on temperature (Ref. 30915). Monogamous and faithful to pair in the wild (Ref. 30915). Male carries the eggs in a brood pouch (Ref. 205).
  • Breder, C.M. and D.E. Rosen 1966 Modes of reproduction in fishes. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey. 941 p. (Ref. 205)
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hippocampus whitei

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
DD
Data Deficient

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2003
  • Needs updating

Assessor/s
Project Seahorse

Reviewer/s
Marsden, A.D., Foster, S.J. & Vincent, A.C.J. (Syngnathid Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
There are no published data about population trends or total numbers of mature animals for this species. There is very little available information about its extent of occurrence or its area of occupancy. There have been no quantitative analyses examining the probability of extinction of this species. As a result, the assessors have insufficient data to properly assess the species against any of the IUCN criteria. A Data Deficient (DD) listing is consistent with that recommended by an assessment conducted for Environment Australia (Pogonoski et al. 2002).

Hippocampus whitei was previously listed in 1996 as VU A2cd under the 1994 criteria. This assessment was based on suspected past declines in occupancy, occurrence and habitat, as well as on potential levels of exploitation. In reassessing the species under the new criteria and with greater taxonomic understanding we find that no appropriate data on biology and ecology, habitat, abundance or distribution are available for this species. Further research is needed. Assessed as Data Deficient under the new criteria.

History
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
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Population

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
Hippocampus whitei is caught for the aquarium trade, and mostly sold on the domestic market (Vincent 1996). The volume of this trade is unknown, but without appropriate management this trade might represent a threat to the species. Small numbers of H. whitei are probably also taken as bycatch in the southeast trawl fishery (Australian Fisheries Management Authority 1999).
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Data deficient (DD)
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The entire genus Hippocampus was listed in Appendix II of CITES in November 2002. Implementation of this listing will begin May 2004. The Australian populations of this species were moved under the Australian Wildlife Protection Act in 1998, so export permits are now required. The permits are only granted for approved management plans or captive bred animals. Such management was transferred under the new Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in 2001. Many states also place their own controls on the capture and/or trade of syngnathid fishes. Further research on this species biology, ecology, habitat, abundance and distribution is needed.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; price category: unknown; price reliability:
  • Vincent, A.C.J. 1996 The international trade in seahorses. TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK. 163 p. (Ref. 12238)
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Wikipedia

New Holland seahorse

White's Seahorse, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago

The New Holland seahorse, Sydney seahorse, or White's seahorse (Hippocampus whitei) is a species of fish in the Syngnathidae family. It is found in Australia and the Solomon Islands. Its natural habitat is subtidal aquatic beds .

References[edit]

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