Pegasus volitans 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Syngnathiformes Pegasidae

Scientific Name: Pegasus volitans Linnaeus, 1758
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Longtail Seamoth, Long-tailed Dragonfish, Pelagic dragon-fish, Slender seamoth, Winged Dragonfish
Cataphractus anceps Gronow, 1854
Pegasus volitans Linnaeus, 1758
Pegasus natans Linnaeus, 1766
Pegasus pristis Bleeker, 1852
Pegasus volans Linnaeus, 1766
Taxonomic Source(s): Palsson, W.A. and Pietsch, T.W. 1989. Revision of the acanthopterygian fish family Pegasidae (order Gasterosteiformes). Indo-Pacific Fishes 18: 1038.
Taxonomic Notes: Osterhage et al. (2016) have described a new species of seamoth (Pegasus tetrabelos) that is sympatric with P. volitans in the Torres Strait and Great Barrier Reef. They also designated a lectotype for P. volitans.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-07-12
Assessor(s): Pollom, R.
Reviewer(s): Ralph, G. & Smith, R.

Pegasus volitans is a coastal marine seamoth that inhabits bays and estuaries with sand, mud and seagrasses. The species is distributed through much of the Indo-West Pacific from East and South Africa to Japan and Australia. It is caught as bycatch in trawl fisheries and subsequently traded for traditional medicine. They are also taken for the aquarium trade. Little is known about population size or recent levels of offtake. Therefore this species is listed as Data Deficient.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Pegasus volitans occurs throughout the Indo-West Pacific: South Africa, Mozambique, Zanzibar, Tanzania, the Persian Gulf and throughout Gulf of Mannar, the Bay of Bengal; along the eastern coast of Myanmar, Gulf of Thailand, the Philippines, north to southern Japan, south to Australia (Vincent 1997).

Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia); Bahrain; China; India (Andaman Is., Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal); Indonesia; Japan; Malaysia (Sarawak); Mozambique; Myanmar; Oman; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal); Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Viet Nam
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – western central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):UnknownEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):Unknown
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:Unknown
Lower depth limit (metres):73
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:To date there have been no dedicated surveys or population estimates for Pegasus volitans. Further research and monitoring are needed in order to determine population size and trends in abundance for this species.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:UnknownPopulation severely fragmented:Unknown
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:UnknownAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Pegasus volitans is a rare, demersal, marine species that occurs in tropical waters between depths of 1 to 73 m, but usually found between 9 to 27 m (Smith 1986, Palsson and Pietsch 1989, Randall 1995). They inhabit muddy and sandy bottoms where they are often found in association with prawns (Conlu 1986). This species is sometimes found in seagrass areas. Adults are usually found in pairs, inhabiting muddy estuaries (Kuiter and Tonozuka 2001). Little is known about their feeding, but other members of the family tend to feed on small epifaunal and interstitial invertebrates such as crustaceans (Herold and Clark 1993). They sometimes fall prey to seabirds or large fishes such as tuna (Palsson and Pietsch 1989). Maximum total length for this species is 20 cm (Allen and Erdmann 2012). Other pegasids have been characterized as broadcast spawners (Herold and Clark 1993). 


Movement patterns:Unknown

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

This species is sometimes caught incidentally by illegal trawl gear in the Philippines and sold for use in traditional Chinese medicine. Approximately 130,000-620,000 P. volitans were landed in north-western Bohol, central Visayas region of the Philippines in 1996, with an additional ~42,000-62,000 caught for the live aquarium trade (Pajaro et al. 2004). It is caught by seine-, trawl-, dredge-, and shrimp-nets (Vincent 1997). Recent catches have not been quantified, and further research and monitoring are needed. A small number of pegasids are also traded as aquarium pets (Vincent 1997). 

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Sea moths may possess characteristics that make them unsuited to heavy exploitation, such as low population densities and established long-term pair bonds of one male and one female that mate repeatedly (Kuiter 1985, Herold and Clark 1993).

Sea moth species began appearing in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the 1980s, and are now traded by several South East Asian countries, including southern China and Hong Kong, although the scale and impact of the trade remains unclear (Lourie et al. 1999, Vincent 1997).

Pegasus volitans is caught incidentally in illegal trawl gear in the Philippines and is sold for use in TCM (Pajaro et al. 2004). Approximately 130,000-620,000 P. volitans were landed in north-western Bohol, central Visayas region of the Philippines in 1996, with an additional ~42,000-62,000 caught for the live aquarium trade (Pajaro et al. 2004).

Total bycatch in the Philippines was significantly female biased, with only 36% males (Pajaro et al. 2004). Given the reported monogamy amongst sea moths (Herold and Clark 1993) this could reduce the proportion of paired males thereby reducing the effective population size.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Pegasus volitans may be found in some Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Philippines as well as Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef. No other conservation measures are in place. Population, habitat, and trade monitoring are needed to determine threats and trends in abundance.

Errata [top]

Errata reason: This errata assessment has been created because the map was accidentally left out of the version published previously.

Citation: Pollom, R. 2016. Pegasus volitans (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T16476A115133968. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided