Hippocampus spinosissimus Weber, 1913

Vertebrate - Fish

Hedgehog Seahorse; Kabayo-kabayohan
Vulnerable (IUCN)

The hedgehog seahorse is an unusual fish that has a horse-like head and trunk with narrow tail, which end into a point. It is encircled with rings of dermal body plates rather than scales. The average adult height is 5.3 to 16 centimeters.

It swims vertically by rapid undulations of its dorsal and pectoral fins, and secures itself to stationary objects using its prehensile tail. A seahorse can change color to match its surroundings, hence, it is difficult to spot it in the wild. Its ability to camouflage helps in searching for food and avoids detection by predators. This small planktivore fish lives in muddy or sandy bottoms and coral reefs. It feeds on planktonic crustaceans, fish larvae and other invertebrates.

Another unusual thing about a seahorse is the way it reproduces. This small, slender fish is a brooder (reproduction by means of special brooding area on the adult fish). The male seahorse is the one who gives birth to the young through its brood pouch (a special pouch on the ventral surface of the male). The gravid (adult female seahorse bearing eggs) female lays her eggs into the adult male’s pouch that fertilizes the eggs and broods them out of harm. Aside from the nutrients the eggs absorbed from the mother seahorse, the young are nourished by the father’s blood supply inside the pouch until they became fully formed juveniles. The pregnant male seahorse then “gives birth” by flexing its pouch muscles forcing the young fish out.

It is found in Sri Lanka; Malaysia; Singapore; Indonesia; Vietnam; Philippines (Cavite, Bohol); Taiwan; and Australia.

This kind of seahorse is used for patent medicines. Chinese eats dried seahorse as tonic foods. It is also exported for aquarium use. Currently, a policy is being formed for the conservation of seahorses. The proposed agency members for the Technical Working Group (TWG) for Seahorse Conservation are namely: Project Seahorse (HARIBON), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), National Museum (NM), Silliman University, Mindanao State University-Naawan, Kabang Kalikasan ng Pilipinas (KKP), UP-Marine Science Institute, UP-Visayas, SEAFDEC and DENR-PAMB.

This page was last modified Tuesday, June 21, 2011
National Museum of the Philippines
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