Map_thumbnail_large_font

Hippocampus comes

Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_offStatus_nt_offStatus_vu_onStatus_en_offStatus_cr_offStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA ACTINOPTERYGII SYNGNATHIFORMES SYNGNATHIDAE

Scientific Name: Hippocampus comes
Species Authority: Cantor, 1849
Common Name(s):
English Tiger Tail Seahorse

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2002
Date Assessed: 2002-01-01
Annotations:
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Project Seahorse
Reviewer(s): Lafrance, P., Lourie, S., Marsden, D. & Vincent, A.C.J. (Syngnathid Red List Authority)
Justification:
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.

Geographic Range [top]

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).
Countries:
Native:
India (Andaman Is.); Indonesia; Malaysia; Philippines; Singapore; Viet Nam
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

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).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

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 [top]

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.

Citation: Project Seahorse 2002. Hippocampus comes. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 27 November 2014.
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