Hippocampus fuscus 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Syngnathiformes Syngnathidae

Scientific Name: Hippocampus fuscus
Species Authority: Rüppell, 1838
Common Name(s):
English Sea Pony
Hippocampus brachyrhynchus Duncker, 1914
Taxonomic Notes: The 1996 and 2000 IUCN Red Lists included H. brachyrhynchus. This is currently considered a synonym of H. fuscus, however, it may be reinstated as taxonomic revisions continue.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2003
Date Assessed: 2003-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Project Seahorse
Reviewer(s): Marsden, A.D., Foster, S.J. & Vincent, A.C.J. (Syngnathid Red List Authority)
There are no published data about population trends or total numbers of mature animals for this species. There is very little available information about its extent of occurrence or its area of occupancy. There have been no quantitative analyses examining the probability of extinction of this species. As a result, the assessors have insufficient data to properly assess the species against any of the IUCN criteria.

Hippocampus fuscus previously was listed in 1996 as VU A2cd under the 1994 criteria. This assessment was based on suspected past declines in occupancy, occurrence and habitat, as well as on potential levels of exploitation. In reassessing the species under the new criteria and with greater taxonomic understanding we find that no appropriate data on biology and ecology, habitat, abundance or distribution are available for this species. Further research is needed. Assessed as Data Deficient under the new criteria.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Countries occurrence:
Djibouti; India; Saudi Arabia; Sri Lanka
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Hippocampus fuscus are found in eelgrass beds (Zostera sp.) in lagoons at depths of 50 to 200 cm (N.A.M. Pathirana in litt. to Lourie et al. 1999).

This species may be particularly susceptible to decline. The limited information on habitat suggests they inhabit shallow sea-grass beds (N.A.M. Pathirana in litt. to Lourie et al. 1999) that are susceptible to human degradation, as well as making them susceptible to being caught as bycatch. All seahorse species have vital parental care, and many species studied to date have high site fidelity (Perante et al. 2002, Vincent et al., in review), highly structured social behaviour (Vincent and Sadler 1995), and relatively sparse distributions (Lourie et al. 1999). The importance of life history parameters in determining response to exploitation has been demonstrated for a number of species (Jennings et al. 1998)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Hippocampus fuscus is traded for traditional medicines, curiosities, and aquaria (Vincent and Perry, in prep.). The volume of the trade in this species is unknown, but without appropriate management the trade might pose a threat to the species. Hippocampus fuscus is collected for the aquarium trade in Sri Lanka (Vincent 1996). In interviews conducted as part of Project Seahorse trade surveys between 2000–2001, half of the 160 fishers surveyed in India reported decreases in their catch of seahorses, while 36% reported no change and 14% reported an increase (A. Perry, unpublished data). However, the proportion of H. fuscus in this trade is unknown, so we need more information to properly categorize the species.

The species might also be threatened due to the vulnerability of its shallow eelgrass habitats to human influence. These habitats are often degraded by humans, and animals located in the habitat are vulnerable to incidental capture in other fisheries.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The entire genus Hippocampus was listed in Appendix II of CITES in November 2002. Implementation of this listing will begin May 2004. All seahorses are listed on Schedule I of India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, banning their capture and trade, with full monitoring of the dried syngnathid trade underway. This monitoring is dependent on traders’ declarations. A permit or license is required to export dried or live syngnathids from South Africa. Further research on this species biology, ecology, habitat, abundance and distribution is needed.

Citation: Project Seahorse. 2003. Hippocampus fuscus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2003: e.T10068A3159336. . Downloaded on 23 October 2016.
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