Hippocampus algiricus ZBK Kaup, 1856
CAS 21441 (1 specimen) Príncipe , mouth of a creek flowing into Praia Rei, Bahia das Agulhas. UFES 154 (4 specimens) Lagoa Azul. Afonso et al. (1999) used the synonym H. punctulatus ZBK Guichenot, 1853. A color photo of an animal from SãoTomé was printed in Debelius (1998) and in Kuiter (2000) under the synonym H . deanei ZBK Duméril , 1857. According to Lourie et al. (2004), the habitat is unknown. The NGS expedition found this to be a common species in shallow water (from 1 m depth down to at least 25 m depth), frequently clinging to large sponges.
- Peter Wirtz, Carlos Eduardo L. Ferreira, Sergio R. Floeter, Ronald Fricke, Joao Luiz Gasparini, Tomio Iwamoto, Luiz Rocha, Claudio L. S. Sampaio, Ulrich K. Schliewen (2007): Coastal Fishes of Sao Tome and Principe islands, Gulf of Guinea (Eastern Atlantic Ocean) - an update. Zootaxa 1523, 1-48: 7-7, URL:http://www.zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:2202520B-A3E7-492D-A932-14463CD6DAF9
Habitat and Ecology
This species is usually found in the shallow photic zone up tto a depth of 25 m (Wirtz et al. 2007). Size at maturity is roughly 9 cm with a maximum size recorded for the species of 19 cm (Lourie et al. 2004, Foster and Vincent 2005).
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Hippocampus algiricus
Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.
Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hippocampus algiricus
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
There is a history of coastal marine pollution and development throughout this species’ entire range along the West African coast from the early 1980's onwards (Portmann, 1989), which previous studies have indicated can adversely affect seahorse populations (see Vincent et al. 2011a for a review). In addition, trawling occurs throughout the range of H. algiricus, along the coast of West Africa (Kristjonsson 1968, Blaber et al. 2000, FAO 2001); and it is known that trawling causes substantial seahorse by-catch and mortality (Baum et al. 2003, McPherson and Vincent 2004, Giles et al. 2006, Perry et al. 2010). Fishing pressure from artisanal fishers has also increased dramatically in recent years, which is putting heavy pressures on local seahorse populations (K. West pers. comm. 2012).
Furthermore, the international trade in this species is substantial. Heavy trade has been recorded since as early as 1996 (Vincent et al. 2011b) and since the listing of the species on CITES Appendix II, there has been documented trade of approximately 700,000 individuals, on average, per year between 2004 and 2008 (Evanson et al. 2011). This documented trade has continued through to the latest trade records on the CITES Trade Database (UNEP-WCMC 2012). It is suspected that trade of this volume has likely resulted in past population declines and will lead to further reductions of H. algiricus populations as trading pressure increases.
- 2002Data Deficient
Population declines due to the pressures from international trade have been acting on this species in West Africa for well over 15 years and are expected to continue into the future. Hippocampus algiricus has also been selected by the CITES Animals Committee for the Review of Significant Trade following COP15 (CITES 2012).
Habitat degradation along the coast is also a concern for this shallow-intertidal species. There is a history of marine contamination from heavy metals, pesticides, oil, and human wastes, as well as coastal development and intensive fishing (Portmann 1989), which may affect populations of H. algiricus.
Shrimp trawling, with high levels of by-catch and ever-increasing demand, occurs extensively along the coast of West Africa in the same habitats as H. algiricus (Kristjonsson 1968, Blaber et al. 2000, FAO 2001). It is known that trawling catches large numbers of seahorses as bycatch when populations of seahorses are present in trawling areas (Baum et al. 2003, McPherson and Vincent 2004, Giles et al. 2006, Perry et al. 2010). It is expected that bycatch of H. algiricus occurs in West Africa, to the detriment of these populations. Fishing pressure from artisanal fishers has also increased dramatically in recent years and this, coupled with little enforcement of minimum mesh sizes for shrimp trawling in countries such as Guinea, is putting heavy pressures on local seahorse populations (K.West pers. comm. 2012).
Hippocampus algiricus may occur in the Bijagos Archipelago Biosphere Reserve in Guinea-Bissau (within the species’ suspected range, Agardy 1999).
Research into the phylogeny of this species is extensive (Casey et al. 2004, Teske et al. 2004, Teske et al. 2007, Floeter et al. 2008, Sanders et al. 2008, Woodall et al. 2009).
West African seahorse
The West African seahorse (Hippocampus algiricus) is a species of fish in the Syngnathidae family (Seahorses and pipefish). It is found in the Atlantic Ocean off Algeria, Angola, Benin, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
It was first videotaped in 2012. The video is part of a joint investigation between Project Seahorse, Imperial College London, and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) into West Africa’s burgeoning seahorse trade. The number of seahorses exported, primarily to China for traditional medicine, has risen sharply in the last few years to about 600,000 seahorses annually. Meanwhile, scientists know virtually nothing about their numbers, habitat, or life cycle.
- Hippocampus algiricus. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed 2007-08-04.
- Project seahorse: first ever video footage of elusive West African seahorse. Accessed 2012-11-01.
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