The other day when I looked at a huge gorgonian fan at 30 m with magnifying glasses in my hand I had trouble focusing on this tiny moving spec which blends so perfectly into the background. It made me wonder how someone ever would have found these cute creatures with bare eyes. So I did a bit of digging:
It was the end of last millennium when the first photos of pygmy seahorses appeared all over the dive magazines. It was almost as they discovered a new species. However the original discovery occurred already in the 1960's by the divers at the Aquarium of Noumea in New Caledonia.
Not much excitement Of course then there were no underwater photographers with macro lenses around. Bargibanti’s Pygmy Sea Horse (Hippocampus bargibanti) was described by the then Curator of Fishes at the Australian Museum Gilbert Whitley in 1970. It was just another scientific discovery and not much note was taken.
Years later Alan Power – Vanuatu’s dive legend – found another one at 50 metres on a sea fan at Santo, Vanuatu in the early 1970′s. Still not much excitement was created and the pygmy seahorses still had a grace period of 20 more years before they were catapulted to top models in the underwater world.
The search for more species The first pygmy seahorses in Indonesia were found by the late Larry Smith, then manager of the Kungkunganbay Resort in Lembeh in the 1995. Our friend and genius underwater photographer Juergen (Yogi) Freund from Cairns happened to be there at the time and when he jumped on board Pindito a couple of days later on a cruise in Raja Ampat he showed his dive guides what to look out for. Within weeks numerous locations for pygmy seahorses were charted and more species were discovered. The rest is history.
Today we know of at least 9 different species and we are still counting.
Source: own research, Neville Coleman All photos are subject to Copyright