- 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)
- 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)
Habitat and Ecology
- Allen, G.R. and M.V. Erdmann 2012 Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth, Australia: Universitiy of Hawai'i Press, Volumes I-III. Tropical Reef Research. (Ref. 90102)
Recorded at 6 meters.
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Hippocampus comes
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hippocampus comes
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- Needs updating
Hippocampus comes has been studied in situ in the central Philippines since 1995, as part of a conservation program in an area where this species is of considerable economic importance (Vincent and Pajaro unpubl. data). The longevity of these animals is estimated as 3.2 years (Meeuwig unpubl. data), and they first mature at about one year old. Generation time therefore must be somewhere between 1 and 3.2 years. Declines under criterion A must be considered over 10 years, as this is undoubtedly longer than three generations. Fishers in Bohol, central Philippines, reported a decline in mean catch per unit effort (CPUE) from 24 seahorses per night per fisher in 1986–1990 (Vincent and Pajaro unpubl. data) to 2.9 seahorses per night per fisher in 1996–1999 (Vincent et al. in prep.). From these numbers, we can estimate an 84% decline in CPUE from 1991–2001 if we assume a linear decline between 1986 and 1999.
Other fisheries targeting H. comes occur in other areas of the Philippines, including Quezon, Iloilo (Panay), Bantayan Island (Cebu), and Surigao del Sur (Mindanao). H. comes are also caught incidentally in pushnets in shallow water, as well as occasionally in trawls from deeper water (Pajaro unpubl. data). Declines of varying severity have been reported in Quezon for H. comes specifically, and in most other areas of the Philippines and Southeast Asia for seahorses as a group (Vincent 1996, Vincent and Perry unpubl. data). Decline in and fragmentation of H. comes' coral, seagrass, and mangrove habitats throughout its range may lead to declines in populations in addition to those caused by the fisheries and trade. Damage to coral reef ecosystems by dynamite and cyanide fishing have been well documented, particularly in the Philippines. Land-based activities such as forestry often lead to increased siltation in surrounding marine waters, thereby smothering coral reefs and seagrass beds. The fishing gears used in seagrass beds often result in substantial trampling by fishers (Pajaro unpubl. data).
A precautionary listing of Vulnerable is warranted, inferring overall numeric declines of 30–50%. The more severe population declines in Bohol are unlikely to be representative of the species throughout its range. Fishing pressure in the central Philippines is particularly high and the reefs that comprise a major habitat are particularly accessible. Even in the central Philippines, H. comes in other habitats, such as seagrass meadows and deeper soft bottom habitats, are much less heavily targeted.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Tiger tail seahorse
The tiger tail seahorse (Hippocampus comes) is a species of fish in the Syngnathidae family. It is found in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Its natural habitats are subtidal aquatic beds and coral reefs. It is threatened by habitat loss.
The tiger tail sea horse lives in Western Central Pacific: Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It lives from 2–3 years. It is harmless. Its climate in water is tropical; 15°N - 1°N and Its maximum size is 18.7 cm. Its snout is 2.2 in head length; it is used to suck up food. They eat small fish, coral, small shrimp, and plankton. The most common pattern is alternating yellow and black. The tail has stripes from the belly to the tip of the tail. These sea horses are normally found in pairs on coral reefs, sponge gardens, kelp, or floating Sargassum. The male carries the eggs in a brood pouch on their chest which holds from 1 - 2,000 eggs and the pregnancy takes from 1 to 4 weeks. It is also used for traditional Chinese medicine. Seahorse populations are thought to have been endangered in recent years by over fishing and habitat destruction. The seahorse is used in traditional Chinese medicine, and as many as 20 million seahorses may be caught each year and sold for this purpose. Import and export of seahorses has been controlled under CITES since May 15, 2004. They don't have scales as fish do, they have more like hard thin skin stretched out around bony rings on their bodies. They swim upright, not horizontally.
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