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Hippocampus sp. (pontohi)
The year 2003 has been a very important one for Pygmy Seahorses. After the description of Hippocampus
denise by Sara A. Lourie and John E. Randall, two new species have been seen by divers: one living on soft corals of
genus Nephtea sp., photographed in Walea (Togian Islands - East Sulawesi) and another, associated with the hydroid
Sertularella sp., seen in Bunaken (Manado - North Sulawesi).
This specie has not yet been described. It seems he was seen for the first time by a local Indonesian
guide named Pontoh, so he probably will be named after him and called Hippocampus pontohi.
Unlike his better known 'cousins' H. bargibanti and H. denise, he prefers to
live at shallow depths: all of the photographed specimens were at 7 meters (23 feet), on the vertical wall
of 'Likuan 2', in Bunaken.
Very little is known about this species. My impression is that he is very active and mobile:
he seemingly never stops moving, always jumping and swimming from one hydroid to another. Taking a good photo
is very difficult. After the photos I made in June, I came back in November, but unfortunately he had
already disappeared. A single specimen had been seen for few days in July, on a dive site called 'Alung Banua',
also in Bunaken. But then, he also disappeared. It is very hard to guess what has happened to them. Maybe they
moved and hid in different places, or maybe their adult life is short, limited to their reproduction phase.
There are no clues to judge by. I only hope he will be soon back again in the beautiful walls of Bunaken!
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