Solegnathus spinosissimus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Syngnathiformes Syngnathidae

Scientific Name: Solegnathus spinosissimus (Günther, 1870)
Common Name(s):
English Australian Spiny Pipehorse, Banded Pipehorse, Spiny Pipehorse, Spiny Seadragon
Solegnathus fasciatus Günther, 1880
Solegnathus robustus Whitley, 1941 ssp. naso
Taxonomic Source(s): Günther, A. 1870. Catalogue of the fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Gymnotidae, Symbranchidae, Muraenidae, Pegasidae and of the Lophobranchii, Plectognathi, Dipnoi, Ganoidei, Chondropterygii, Cyclostomata, Leptocardii in the collection of the British Museum. British Museum (Natural History) 8: 1-549.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-05-20
Assessor(s): Pollom, R.
Reviewer(s): Ralph, G.
Contributor(s): Pogonoski, J., Pollard, D.A., Paxton, J.R., Morgan, S.K. & Bartnik, S.
Solegnathus spinosissimus is a marine coastal and shelf pipehorse species that inhabits waters off of southeastern Australia and New Zealand. It occupies a variety of habitats including muddy bottoms, seafans, and rocky reefs. The species is often taken as bycatch in trawl fisheries and subsequently traded for use in traditional medicine, and this is the major threat to the species. Little is known about population size, trends in abundance, or the level of offtake as a result of bycatch. Therefore this species is listed as Data Deficient. 

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Solegnathus spinosissimus occurs in southeastern Australia along the coasts of New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania (May and Maxwell 1986), and New Zealand (Paulin et al. 1989). This species has also been recorded from off Brisbane (Queensland), and in South Australian waters (Gomon et al. 1994), although the South Australian specimen identifications have not been confirmed.


Countries occurrence:
Australia (Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria); New Zealand
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; 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):232
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:To date there have been no range-wide surveys or population estimates for Solegnathus spinosissimus. A small-scale study of S. spinosissimus in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Tasmania suggested that the species is rare/scarce and found in low abundance (Davey and Martin-Smith, unpub. data). Further research is needed in order to determine population size and trends in abundance for this species.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Solegnathus spinosissimus is most commonly taken by trawl in areas with muddy bottoms at depths of 29-232 m, but it occurs as shallow as 2-3 m in the Derwent & Huon Estuaries, Tasmania (Dawson 1982, 1985, Gomon et al. 1994, Davey and Martin-Smith, unpub. data). It is found in shallow waters in the southern part of its range where waters are shaded or are darkened by tannins. This species is often found over rubble substrates and near rich invertebrate platform reefs (Kuiter 2000). It is sometimes found on beaches after storms and has occasionally been collected in depths up to 670 m. This species probably attaches itself to encrusting animal growths on deep rocky reefs (Ayling and Cox 1982). Divers in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Huon Estuary in Tasmania have observed S. spinosissimus holding on to sea whips at 10-15 m depth  (Edgar 1997,  Davey and Martin-Smith unpub. data). In this habitat, they probably rely on camouflage to avoid predators. In New Zealand, S. spinosissimus has been observed in Fiordland at 20-30 m attached to gorgonians or other habitat forming benthos (K. Miller pers. comm. 2008).

This species is ovoviviparous, and the female attaches eggs to the underside of the male’s tail, just behind the anus, as pipehorses lack a brood pouch structure (Breder and Rosen 1966, Francis 1996). The male carries the eggs until they hatch (Francis 1996). Brood size is approx. 200 (Davey and Martin-Smith unpub. data). The young are benthic and have no pelagic stage (Kuiter 2000). Solegnathus spinosissimus anchor themselves to holdfasts such as seaweed or sea fans while feeding on planktonic crustaceans (Francis 1996).

Solegnathus spinosissimus attains a maximum length of 50 cm, and males are brooding at 30 cm (Dawson 1985).

Movement patterns:Unknown

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

There are no reports of targeted fisheries for S. spinosissimus, although specimens that are caught as bycatch in Australian trawl fisheries are dried and sold in domestic and international traditional medicine markets (Pogonoski et al. 2002, Martin-Smith et al. 2003, Martin-Smith and Vincent 2006) and domestic trade occurs at low volumes when compared to international trade. Trade records indicate that, between 1995 and 2001, a mean +/- standard deviation of 1,010 +/- 770 kg of pipehorses (identified as four Solegnathus species and perhaps some large pipefish species) were exported per year from Australia (Martin-Smith and Vincent 2006). These numbers are less than the cumulative total for Australian import cited from Hong Kong (870 +/- 480 kg yr-1) and Taiwan (470 +/- 340 kg yr-1) (Martin-Smith and Vincent 2006).

In September 1999, traditional medicine stores in Sydney (NSW) were selling an average sized dried specimen of S. spinosissimus for about $A 3.50 (C. Woodfield, pers. comm. 1999). The origin (Australia or New Zealand) and method of capture (though probably trawled) of these individuals is unknown (Pogonoski et al. 2002, Martin-Smith et al. 2003, Martin-Smith and Vincent 2006), as is the nature of how they are distributed from collector to retailer.

There are no more recent reports of this species in trade or in bycatch.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Commercial fish and prawn trawling are potential threats to the survival of this species as they are taken as bycatch in these trawl and Danish seine fisheries (Ayling and Cox 1982, AFMA 1999, Bowles 2001, Pogonoski et al. 2002, Martin-Smith et al. 2003, Martin-Smith and Vincent 2006). Specimens caught as trawl bycatch will not likely survive if released due damage to internal organs that occurs when caught and brought to the surface, also termed prolapse (K. Graham, pers. comm. 1999 as cited in Pogonoski et al. 2002). Prolapse has been observed in animals brought to the surface from >5 m depth (Martin-Smith, unpub. data 2008).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

In Australia, S. spinosissimus has been identified or protected under several pieces of legislation. All syngnathids are listed as Protected Aquatic Biota in Victoria, Australia and the Tasmanian Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995 prohibits the take of all syngnathids in Tasmania by non-permit holders, since September 1994 (Pogonoski et al. 2002). As well, all syngnathids became subject to the export controls of the Commonwealth Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 from 1 January 1998 (Pogonoski et al. 2002). All syngnathids and solenostomids were listed as marine species under s248 of the EPBC Act 1999 (Pogonoski et al. 2002).

Pogonoski et al. (2002) also suggest non-trawl protected areas within the range of S. spinosissimus. Non-trawl areas would protect some wild populations from possible bycatch threats. In addition, monitoring of bycatch from the trawl fisheries would allow for baseline data to be accumulated on abundances, distributions and habitats (Pogonoski et al. 2002).

This species is not subject to any international legislation or trade regulations. 

Citation: Pollom, R. 2017. Solegnathus spinosissimus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T20318A67623085. . Downloaded on 18 September 2018.
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