Hippocampus coronatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Syngnathiformes Syngnathidae

Scientific Name: Hippocampus coronatus
Species Authority: Temminck & Schlegel, 1850
Common Name(s):
English High-crowned Seahorse, Crowned Seahorse
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N., Fricke, R. and Van der Laan, R. (eds). 2016. Catalog of Fishes: genera, species, references. Updated 2 May 2016. Available at: (Accessed: 2 May 2016).
Taxonomic Notes: The name H. coronatus has often been applied to H. sindonis in the past. Morphometric (Lourie et al. 1999) and genetic (Mukai et al. 2000) research suggest that these two are not the same species. Mukai et al.’s (2000) data also suggest that H. coronatus is distinct from H. mohnikei.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-10-21
Assessor(s): Zhang, X. & Pollom, R.
Reviewer(s): Masonjones, H. & Ralph, G.
Hippocampus coronatus is assessed as Data Deficient. There are no published data about population trends or total numbers of mature animals for this species. The species is threatened by the loss and degradation of seagrass habitat due to coastal development, pollution, and destructive fishing practices such as trawling, however none of these have been quantified across the range. Lack of information on population trends and habitat data for the region contribute to uncertainty.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Hippocampus coronatus inhabits shallow coastal waters, from Hokkaido to Kyushu in Japan, and southern South Korea, including northwestern Kamakman Bay, Yeosu, and Dongdae Bay (Nakabo 2000, Choi et al. 2012, Huh et al. 2014).
Countries occurrence:
Japan; Korea, Republic of
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – northwest
Additional data:
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme 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):20
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


To date there have been few dedicated surveys or population estimates for Hippocampus coronatus. In Yeosu, Korea, there was a density of 2.9 seahorses/km2 in the mid-2000s (Choi et al. 2012). In Dongdae Bay, Korea, 164 individuals were caught over a one-year period (2006-2007), although effort was not quantified (Huh et al. 2014). There are no published population studies from the Japanese portion of the range. 

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:

Hippocampus coronatus are found in shallow coastal habitats covered by Sargassum and Zostera (Masuda et al. 1984, Choi et al. 2012, Huh et al. 2014, Park and Kwak 2015).

As in other members of the genus Hippocampus, it is the males that give birth to live young (Foster and Vincent 2004). The breeding season for this species occurs from June to November (Masuda et al. 1984, Park and Kwak 2015). According to a recent population study in South Korea, size at first maturity for females and males, respectively, was 6.93 and 7.33 cm in length (Park and Kwak 2014). The total number of eggs ranged from 56 to 163 with mature eggs from 4 to 56, and the number of brood in the pouches of males ranged from 12 to 46. Population density ranged from 0 to 6.5 individuals per 1, 000 m², and averaged at 2.9 ± 0.6. The population abundance was also found to be significantly correlated with water temperature (Park and Kwak 2015.

According to Huh et al. (2014), H. coronatus mainly feeds on gammarid amphipods and copepods. Its diet also included a small portion of of mysids, ostracods, brachiopods, caprellid amphipods, bathynellaceas, isopods, tanaids, and ascothoracids. The dietary habit is size-related, with smaller individuals consuming copepods, and the larger feeding on gammarid amphipods and mysids. The dietary breadth index was increased with increasing body size.

This species, like other seahorses, may be particularly susceptible to decline. The limited information on habitat suggests they inhabit shallow seagrass beds (Masuda et al. 1984, Park and Kwak 2015) that are subject to human pressures. All seahorse species have vital parental care, and many species studied to date have high site fidelity (Perante et al. 2002, Vincent et al. 2005), highly structured social behaviour (Vincent and Sadler 1995), and relatively sparse distributions (Lourie et al. 1999).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Movement patterns:Unknown

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Hippocampus coronatus has been observed in the aquarium trade and in bycatch. Seahorses are traded heavily for traditional medicine, especially in China (Foster and Vincent 2004). Project Seahorse trade surveys conducted between 2000–2001 indicated that the trade in H. coronatus appears to be quite small (B. Kwan unpublished data). It is not targeted in any fishery, but it may be caught incidentally in other fisheries (B. Kwan unpublished data, Park and Kwak 2015).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Hippocampus coronatus is not targeted in a fishery, and levels of trade in this species appear to be low. Seagrass habitats are threatened in the area by coastal development and subsequent pollution, as well as by destructive fishing methods such as trawling (Lee et al. 2002). The scope and severity of these threats and how they are impacting the species have not been quantified, but are not thought to approach threshold levels that would indicate a threatened status for H. coronatus.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The entire genus Hippocampus was listed in Appendix II of CITES in 2004. This species occurs in at least one protected area. Further research on species biology and population size are needed. Population size, harvest trends, and habitat health need to be monitored in order to assure this species' conservation.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.7. Marine Neritic - Macroalgal/Kelp
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.9. Marine Neritic - Seagrass (Submerged)
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:No
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:Unknown
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Unknown
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.2. Commercial & industrial areas
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.3. Indirect ecosystem effects
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.3. Trade trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

Bibliography [top]

Choi, Y-U., Rho, S., Park, H-S., and Kang, D-H. 2012. Population characteristics of two seahorses, Hippocampus coronatus and Hippocampus mohnikei, around seagrass beds in the southern coastal waters of Korea. Ichthyological Research 59(3): 235-241.

Foster, S.J. and Vincent, A.C.J. 2004. Life history and ecology of seahorses: implications for conservation and management. Journal of Fish Biology 65: 1-61.

Huh, S.H., Park, J.M., Kwak, S.N. and Seong, B.J. 2014. Abundances and feeding habits of Hippocampus coronatus in an eelgrass (Zostera marina) bed of Dongdae Bay, Korea. Bulletin of the Korean society of Fisheries Technology 50(2): 115-123 [in Korean].

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2016).

Lee, S.-Y., Kwon, C.-J., Lee, K.-S., and Choi, C.-I. 2002. Distribution of Eelgrass, Zostera marina L. on Coasts of the Korean Peninsula: Preliminary Study for Eelgrass Restoration. Ocean and Polar Research 24(1): 55-61.

Lourie, S.A., Vincent, A.C.J. and Hall, H.J. 1999. Seahorses: an identification guide to the world's species and their conservation. Project Seahorse, London, U.K.

Masuda, H., Amaoka, K., Araga, C., Uyeno, T. and Yoshino, T. 1984. The fishes of the Japanese Archipelago. Tokai University Press, Tokyo, Japan.

Mukai, T., Tsuihji, T., Sato, T. and Morisawa, M. 2000. Mitochondrial DNA divergence in the seahorse Hippocampus coronatus (Syngnathiformes: Syngnathidae), collected from Sagami Bay. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 47(139-143).

Nakabo, T. 2000. Fishes of Japan, with pictorial keys to the species. Tokai University Press, Tokyo, Japan.

Park, J. M. and Kwak, S. N. 2015. Length–weight relationships and reproductive characteristics of the crowned seahorse (Hippocampus coronatus) in eelgrass beds (Zostera marina) of Dongdae Bay, Korea. Marine Biology Research 11(2): 209-213.

Perante, N.C., Pajaro, M.G., Meeuwig, J.J. and Vincent, A.C.J. 2002. Biology of a seahorse species Hippocampus comes in the central Philippines. Journal of Fish Biology 60: 821-837.

Vincent, A.C.J. and Sadler, L.M. 1995. Faithful pair bonds in wild seahorses, Hippocampus whitei.. Animal Behaviour 50: 1557-1569.

Vincent, A.C.J., Evans, K.L. and Marsden, A.D. 2005. Home ranges of the monogamous Australian seahorse, Hippocampus whitei. Environmental Biology of Fishes 72: 1-12.

Citation: Zhang, X. & Pollom, R. 2016. Hippocampus coronatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T10065A54904583. . Downloaded on 23 January 2017.
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