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The seamoths make up a family of fishes, the Pegasidae, within the order Gasterosteiformes. They are named for Pegasus, a mythological creature from Greek mythology. Seamoths are notable for their unusual appearance including flattened bodies, the presence of large, wing-like, pectoral fins, a long snout, and a body encased in thick, bony plates. They are found primarily in coastal tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific.
Seamoths have modified pelvic fins that allow them to "walk" across the sea bottom where they live. Their jaws are ventral, located behind their long rostrum, and are toothless. Their mouth is highly specialized, and can form a tube-like mouth used to suck worms and other small invertebrates from their burrows. They periodically molt their bony external armor, perhaps as often as every 5 days.
Pegasus laternarius is listed as a Vulnerable species by the IUCN, while the remaining four species of seamoth remain Data Deficient. Threats to seamoths come from various sources including fisheries where they are caught as bycatch or on purpose for use in traditional Chinese medicines. They are also collected for sale in the aquarium trade. Bottom trawls and coastal development may detrimentally alter habitat used by benthic seamoths. Life history characteristics such as low population sizes and monogamy with long-term pair bonding put them at risk of exploitation.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Pegasidae" in FishBase. September 2012 version.
- Orr, J.W. & Pietsch, T.W. (1998). In Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 171. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
- Herold D, and Clark E. 193. Monogamy, spawning, and skin-shedding of the seamouth, Eurypegasus draconis (Pisces: Pegasidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 37:219-236.
- Sorensen, M.& Vincent, A. (2010). "Eurypegasus draconis". IUCN. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- Vincent, A. (1996). "Pegasus laternarius". IUCN. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- Vincent, A. (1996). "Pegasus lancifer". IUCN. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- Sorensen, M. & Vincent, A. (2010). "Pegasus volitans". IUCN. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- Sorensen, M. & Vincent, A. (2012). "Pegasus papilio". IUCN. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
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