Where in thBargibant's seahorse in its habitat, photo used with permission by Paddy Ryane world?

     Between all 32 different species, seahorses can be found in many different ocean depths and in both tropical and temperate habitats in the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic Oceans (Lourie and Randall 2003). H. bargibanti in particular has been found in tropical oceanic regions of the Pacific, including areas of Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, New Caledonia, Australia, and Papua New Guinea. They can be found 16-40 meters (45-130 feet) below ocean water (Lourie and Foster 2004). As it is a more recently discovered species and because of its tiny stature and camouflaging abilities, it is thought to exist in other locations that have not yet been discovered.


     Pygmy seahorses can be found inhabiting gorgonians, soft corals, and hydrozoans.Can you spot the seahorse? Photo from Wikipedia H. bargibanti in particular is found mainly on one type of coral - they inhabit the corals of Muricella, of which it can camouflage well in (Lourie and Foster 2004). Two specific species they inhabit are Muricella plectana and Muricella parplectana. They tend to remain on one gorgonian for anywhere from 3 to 40 weeks (Baine, Barrows, Ganiga, and Martin-Smith 2008). On M. paraplectana, H. bargibanti camouflage by having yellow color with orange tubercles, while on M. plectana, they camouflage with grey/purple bodies and red/pink tubercles. This camouflage is yet another reason, along with the recent discovery and small size of the species, that they can be hard to find. In fact, this species of seahorse was “accidently” discovered, since the scientist was performing lab work on Muricella and stumbled upon this tiny seahorse. H. bargibanti is often found in pairs, with up to 28 pairs on each Muricella (Encyclopedia of Life).
     More information on this relationship with the coral Muricella be found in here.

 Neighbors in the reef
     Other organisms that are found in this same habitat include other species of seahorses as well. In fact, the same sea fan, Muricella, also has other species of seahorses that inhabit it (Lourie and Foster 2004).
     Other species that are found in the area include the sea sponge Cryptotethya crypta, the Common Starfish, Red Algae, Star Fruit, the Yellow Tang, the Mandarine Fish, the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish, the Manta Ray, and the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin. (These sites were all created by fellow UW-L students. To see a complete list of sites by students, please visit this list.)

Click here to learn about H. bargibanti's form and function!

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