Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Unusually, it is the male, and not the female, that becomes pregnant in seahorses (6). The breeding season of this species is June to July and there are reports that broods contain 'several hundred' young, although this may refer to H. sindonis, a similar species that has only recently been distinguished as a separate species (1) (2). Young look like miniature adult seahorses, are independent from birth, and receive no further parental care (6).
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Description

This Japanese seahorse earns its common name for the tall, backward-curving crown on top of its head, which is coupled with rather unusual, irregular spines projecting out of the body (4). The skin is yellowish, marbled with dark brown, and black along the back. Like other seahorses, the head is held at right angles to the body, the eyes can move independently of each other, and the tail is prehensile. Instead of having scales, as most other fish do, seahorses have a layer of skin stretched over bony plates that are visible as rings passing around the trunk. Swimming is powered by the rapidly oscillating dorsal fin, and they steer using the fins on either side of the body (the pectoral fins) (2).
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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Inhabits Sargassum belts near shore. Used in Chinese medicine (Ref. 12166). Length type OT refers to height (= TL - head length). Ovoviviparous (Ref. 205). The male carries the eggs in a brood pouch which is found under the tail (Ref. 205).
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Distribution

Northwest Pacific: Endemic to Japan. This name has been misapplied to Hippocampus sindonis (Ref. 30915). International trade is monitored through a licensing system (CITES II, since 5.15.04) and a minimum size of 10 cm applies.
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Western North Pacific: Nagasaki to Tokyo Bay, Japan.
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Range

Endemic to Japanese waters in the northwest Pacific (5).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 14
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Size

Maximum size: 90 mm TL
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Max. size

10.8 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 36318))
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Diagnostic Description

Description: (based on 7 specimens): Adult height: 6.0-10.5cm. Rings: 10 + 39 (38-40). Snout length: 2.4 (2.3-2.5) in head length. Dorsal fin rays: 14 covering 2+0 rings. Pectoral fin rays: 12. Coronet: extremely tall, its tip fluted and turned backwards. Spines: very irregular; most body angles without spines, but where spines are present they are often long, thin and blunt-tippedOther distinctive characters: very short dorsal fin base, bordered by extremely expanded ‘wing-like’ projecting flattened spines; prominent eye spine.Color pattern: yellowish, marbled with dark brown; black dorsal surface.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Hippocampus coronatus are found among Sargassum, close to shore (Masuda et al. 1984). The breeding season of this species is June to July (Masuda et al. 1984).

This species may be particularly susceptible to decline. The limited information on habitat suggests they inhabit shallow sea-grass beds (Masuda et al. 1984) 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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Environment

demersal; non-migratory; marine
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Found among Sargassum close to shore (2) (5).
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Trophic Strategy

Inhabits Saragassum belts near shore (Ref. 30915). A carnivore that feeds on crabs and fish larvae (Ref. 9137).
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Male carries the eggs in a brood pouch (Ref. 205).
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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

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.

Hippocampus coronatus previously was listed in 1996 as VU A2cd under old 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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Status

Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
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Population

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
Project Seahorse trade surveys conducted between 2000–2001 indicated that the trade in H. coronatus appears to be quite small (B. Kwan, unpublished data). It is only found in Japan (from Hokkaido to Kyushu; Nakabo 2000), and while it is not targeted in any fishery, it may be caught incidentally in other fisheries (B. Kwan, unpublished data).
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Data deficient (DD)
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Very little is known about the total number of crowned seahorses, its population trends, or major threats. It has therefore been classified as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List 2006. Trade surveys conducted by Project Seahorse between 2000 and 2001 indicate that trade in this species is relatively small. Furthermore, the crowned seahorse is not targeted by any fishery in Japanese waters, although it may be caught incidentally as bycatch (1).
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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. Further research on this species biology, ecology, habitat, abundance, and distribution is needed.
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Conservation

All seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) are listed on Appendix II of CITES, effective as of May 2004, limiting and regulating their international trade (2). With such limited data available on this fascinating animal, there is an urgent need for further research to be conducted on its biology, ecology, habitat, abundance and distribution, before its status can be properly assessed and conservation measures implemented accordingly (1).
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Wikipedia

Crowned seahorse

The crowned seahorse, Hippocampus coronatus, is a species of fish in the Syngnathidae family. It is endemic to Japan. Its natural habitat is subtidal aquatic beds.

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