|Scientific Name:||Hippocampus comes|
|Species Authority:||Cantor, 1849|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Vulnerable A2cd ver 3.1|
|Reviewer(s):||Lafrance, P., Lourie, S., Marsden, D. & Vincent, A.C.J. (Syngnathid Red List Authority)|
Hippocampus comes is targeted by fishers supplying a substantial trade in seahorses for medicinal and aquarium uses. This species is also incidentally caught (bycatch) in other fisheries and affected by habitat degradation. Given that H. comes is among the most commonly traded seahorse species, particularly for ornamental display, fishers' and traders' evidence of declines in seahorse availability raise concern (Vincent 1996) for this species.
Hippocampus comes has been studied in situ in the central Philippines since 1995, as part of a conservation program in an area where this species is of considerable economic importance (Vincent and Pajaro unpubl. data). The longevity of these animals is estimated as 3.2 years (Meeuwig unpubl. data), and they first mature at about one year old. Generation time therefore must be somewhere between 1 and 3.2 years. Declines under criterion A must be considered over 10 years, as this is undoubtedly longer than three generations. Fishers in Bohol, central Philippines, reported a decline in mean catch per unit effort (CPUE) from 24 seahorses per night per fisher in 1986–1990 (Vincent and Pajaro unpubl. data) to 2.9 seahorses per night per fisher in 1996–1999 (Vincent et al. in prep.). From these numbers, we can estimate an 84% decline in CPUE from 1991–2001 if we assume a linear decline between 1986 and 1999.
Other fisheries targeting H. comes occur in other areas of the Philippines, including Quezon, Iloilo (Panay), Bantayan Island (Cebu), and Surigao del Sur (Mindanao). H. comes are also caught incidentally in pushnets in shallow water, as well as occasionally in trawls from deeper water (Pajaro unpubl. data). Declines of varying severity have been reported in Quezon for H. comes specifically, and in most other areas of the Philippines and Southeast Asia for seahorses as a group (Vincent 1996, Vincent and Perry unpubl. data). Decline in and fragmentation of H. comes' coral, seagrass, and mangrove habitats throughout its range may lead to declines in populations in addition to those caused by the fisheries and trade. Damage to coral reef ecosystems by dynamite and cyanide fishing have been well documented, particularly in the Philippines. Land-based activities such as forestry often lead to increased siltation in surrounding marine waters, thereby smothering coral reefs and seagrass beds. The fishing gears used in seagrass beds often result in substantial trampling by fishers (Pajaro unpubl. data).
A precautionary listing of Vulnerable is warranted, inferring overall numeric declines of 30–50%. The more severe population declines in Bohol are unlikely to be representative of the species throughout its range. Fishing pressure in the central Philippines is particularly high and the reefs that comprise a major habitat are particularly accessible. Even in the central Philippines, H. comes in other habitats, such as seagrass meadows and deeper soft bottom habitats, are much less heavily targeted.
|Range Description:||The primary range of H. comes is the Philippines, where they are heavily exploited by subsistence fishers. H. comes are also collected for the aquarium industry in Lampung, Sumatera, Indonesia, but were not found elsewhere in Indonesia during an intensive three-month field survey (Lourie unpubl. data). Moreover H. comes is known in the Andaman Islands only from a single photograph, and in Malaysia only from a single specimen (Lourie unpubl. data).|
Native:India (Andaman Is.); Indonesia; Malaysia; Philippines; Singapore; Viet Nam
|FAO Marine Fishing Areas:||
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – western central
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
|Habitat and Ecology:||H. comes are found on coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove habitats. This species may be particularly susceptible to decline. 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).|
|Major Threat(s):||Hippocampus comes is targeted by fishers supplying a substantial trade in seahorses for medicinal and aquarium uses. This species is also incidentally caught (bycatch) in other fisheries and affected by habitat degradation.|
|Conservation Actions:||Hippocampus comes has been studied in situ in the central Philippines since 1995, as part of a conservation program in an area where this species is of considerable economic importance (Vincent and Pajaro unpubl. data). It is listed on CITES Appendix II.|
IUCN. 2002. 2002 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 8 October 2002.
Jennings, S., Reynolds, J.D. and Mills, S.C. 1998. Life history correlates of responses to fisheries exploitation. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 265:333-339.
Lourie, S.A. Department of Biology, McGill University. 1205 Docteur Penfield Ave., Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1B1, Canada. Unpublished data.
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.
Meeuwig, J.J. Department of Biology, McGill University. 1205 Docteur Penfield Ave., Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1B1, Canada. Unpublished data.
Pajaro, M.G. Department of Biology, McGill University. 1205 Docteur Penfield Ave., Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1B1, Camada. Unpublished data.
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. Accepted by Journal of Fish Biology. 2001.
Vincent, A.C.J. 1996. The International Trade in Seahorses. TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK.
Vincent, A.C.J. and Perajo, M.G. Department of Biology, McGill University. 1205 Docteur Penfield Ave., Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1B1, Canada. Unpublished data.
Vincent, A.C.J. and Perry, A.L. Department of Biology, McGill University. 1205 Docteur Penfield Ave., Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1B1, Canada. Unpublished data.
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 range behaviour of the monogamous Australian seahorse, Hippocampus whitei. Environmental Biology of Fishes 72: 1–12.
Vincent, A.C.J., Meeuwig, J.J., Pajaro, M.G. and Perante, N.C. 2007. Seahorse catches in the central Philippines: characteristics and conservation implications. Fisheries Research 86: 207-215.
|Citation:||Project Seahorse 2002. Hippocampus comes. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 25 October 2014.|
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