Hippocampus guttulatus ZBK Cuvier, 1829
Black Sea : 9800-611 (1 spc.), 12.05.1978 , Riva , N. Meriç . Sea of Marmara : 9800-191 (2 spc.), 21.10.1992 , South-west Sarkoey , dredge , 13 m, L. Eryilmaz . Aegean Sea : 9800-579 (1 spc.), May 2001 , Bozcaada Island , trawl , 68 m, L. Eryilmaz ; 9800-538 (1 spc.), 24.01.1969 , Goekova Bay , M. Demir ; 9800-198 (1 spc), 24.01.1969 , Goekova Bay , M. Demir . Mediterranean Sea : 9800-731 (1 spc.), December 2002 , Iskenderun Bay , trawl , C. Dalyan .
- Nurettin Meriç, Lütfiye Eryilmaz, Müfit Özulug (2007): A catalogue of the fishes held in the Istanbul University, Science Faculty, Hydrobiology Museum. Zootaxa 1472, 29-54: 41-41, URL:http://www.zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:428F3980-C1B8-45FF-812E-0F4847AF6786
- 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)
- Curtis, J.M.R. and A.C.J. Vincent 2006 Life history of an unusual marine fish: survival, growth and movement patterns of Hippocampus guttulatus Cuvier 1829. J. Fish Biol. 68:707-733. (Ref. 79902)
Catalog Number: USNM 117545
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Locality: Bay of Biscay?, France, Atlantic
Habitat and Ecology
In the Ria Formosa adult H. guttulatus are associated with complex habitats, including Zostera marina, Ulva spp., Codium spp. and artificial structures (Curtis and Vincent 2005). However this species is seen in different habitats such as rocky areas, sand/silt ripples, sessile invertebrates and sponges in other locations such as the U.K, Bulgaria, Spain, France and Greece (Garrick-Maidment and Jones 2004, Louisy 2010, Woodall 2009). As an ambush predator, H. guttulatus has a wide dietary range that mainly comprises Amphipoda, Anmura, Decopoda and Mysidacae (Kitsos et al. 2008, Gurkan et al. 2011) and thus is associated with highly productive habitats.
Hippocampus guttulatus are seasonal breeders (approx. March to October) with a temperature limited mating and gestation period of around 21 days (Boisseau 1967, Curtis 2007). Predicted annual fecundity is about 900 young and is correlated with fish size, but the size of the male brood pouch is inferred to be a limiting factor for both sexes (Curtis 2007).
In the Ria Formosa, newborn H. guttulatus are about 12 mm and are seen in adult habitat at 96 mm. Males are mature at 109 mm, reproduce at 125 mm and live for approximately 5 years (Curtis and Vincent 2006). Juvenile H. guttulatus (<96mm) are rarely observed during surveys (Curtis and Vincent 2006, Louisy 2010, Woodall 2009). They spend the first weeks of life as plankton, but nothing more is known about them until recruitment at 96mm (Boisseau 1967). Juvenile development ex-situ is determined by water temperature, food availability and condition at birth (J. Palma pers. comm.).
Hippocampus guttulatus adults have low dispersal and limited migration (Caldwell and Vincent 2012). This reduces their ability to colonize new areas, recolonize old ones, and in addition reduces their ability to move when habitat becomes unfavourable. H. guttulatus, consistent with other seahorses, has a genetically monogamous mating system, at least within a breeding season (Woodall et al. 2011), and this may reduce their reproductive potential if their partner is removed from the population (e.g. caught). However H. guttulatus matures at an early age, has rapid growth rates, and a short generation time, traits which suggest that it may recover rapidly when direct (e.g., exploitation) and indirect (e.g., by-catch and habitat damage) effects of disturbance cease, but may be vulnerable to extended periods of poor recruitment (Curtis and Vincent 2006).
- 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)
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1 sample.
Depth range (m): 5 - 33.5
Temperature range (°C): 19.203 - 19.203
Nitrate (umol/L): 1.064 - 1.064
Salinity (PPS): 37.543 - 37.543
Oxygen (ml/l): 5.265 - 5.265
Phosphate (umol/l): 0.246 - 0.246
Silicate (umol/l): 3.188 - 3.188
Depth range (m): 5 - 33.5
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
Life History and Behavior
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Hippocampus guttulatus
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 guttulatus
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
There is some evidence for a large (94%) decrease in population census size from one location (Ria Formosa, South Portugal) (Curtis and Vincent 2005, Caldwell and Vincent 2012), but no consistent trends have been observed and trends throughout the species' range are unknown; this is partly due to a scarcity of information. Thus, based on a lack of data, this species cannot be reliably categorised on a global level.
Urgent population assessments and long term monitoring programs across its geographic range are required to assess the global extinction risk of this species. In addition there are, at present, no data as to the extent populations are exploited in Africa. Current research ongoing in West Africa will hopefully elucidate this situation.
- 2003Data Deficient
There is no global estimate of H. guttulatus population size and no global assessment of population trends. However there are two locations where long-term datasets are available and another where population dynamics have been assessed through interviews.
In the Ria Formosa (southern Portugal), the H. guttulatus population decreased by 94% from 2002 to 2007 (Curtis and Vincent 2005, Caldwell and Vincent 2012). More recent surveys at this location revealed that the population size is possibly increasing again (M. Correia pers. comm.). No cause for the population change has been confirmed, but benthic macrofauna habitat changes recorded in the area have been shown to result from anthropogenic stressors (Gamito 2008) and this may be related to the declines in seahorse numbers.
In the Thau Lagoon (Southern France), H. guttulatus populations have fluctuated each year, however no long term trend has been observed (2005–2009) (Louisy 2011). In the Arcachon Basin (Western France), interviews suggest that the population distribution is very patchy, but to date no trend has been established due to lack of consistent data collection (2005–2011) (Grima 2011).
Anecdotal evidence is available in other locations, but without exhaustive surveys and systematic data collection. In Mar Menor, (Southern Spain), Voiotias, (Greece) and Varna, (Bulgaria) the population size of H. guttulatus fluctuates greatly each year (2005–2011) (anecdotal evidence compiled by L. Woodall, Project Seahorse). In other coastal sites populations have both decreased (Badalona, Spain- J. Ortiz, SASBA, in. litt.; Malaga, Spain- P. Cabrera, in. litt.; Galicia, Spain- S. Valladares, in. litt) and increased (La Herradura, Spain- P. Cabrera, in. litt.). It is therefore difficult to generalize on population trends for this species throughout its range.
Seahorses are caught both intentionally and incidentally in Portugal, and sold for curiosities or into the live aquarium fish trade (J. Curtis, in litt. to P. LaFrance). They are also caught incidentally in Italy, France, Spain and Croatia (J. Curtis pers. comm. to P. LaFrance). The volume of this trade is unknown, but without appropriate management this trade might represent a threat to the species.
Regionally, it is listed as Near Threatened in the Mediterranean (Abdul Malak et al. 2011) and Endangered in Croatia (Jardas et al. 2007). In the Black Sea region, it is listed as Endangered by Turkey, Vulnerable in Georgia and the Ukraine, and Least Concern in Romania (Yankova 2012). The species is listed in National Red Data Books in Bulgaria, France, Portugal and Slovenia (Yankova 2012). H. guttulatus is protected by the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act of 2008 (DEFRA 2008) and is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species (JNCC 2010).
Further research on this species biology, ecology, habitat, abundance and distribution is needed. Long-term monitoring is required for this species across its geographic range focusing on population trends, harvest level trend and habitat trends.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
The long-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus) is a species of fish in the Syngnathidae family. The long-snouted seahorse is also referred to as the spiny seahorse and is native to the northeast Atlantic, including the Mediterranean.
Long-snouted seahorses live in shallow, sheltered waters, hiding amidst seaweed and sea-grass. Their reproduction is interesting, with females depositing the eggs in a pouch in the male's abdomen, where he incubates them for 5 weeks. At the end of this time, the pouch repeatedly contracts until the small completely formed hatchlings are released.
- Froese, R.; Pauly, D. (6 October 2010). "FishBase".