Pontoh's seahorse found at Wakatobi Resort

Finding seahorses anywhere is not the easiest of things to do but occasionally we come across one on our snorkeling adventures, giving us a sense of accomplishment and reaffirming that our eyesight is still somewhat adequate. All seahorse species, of which there are over 45, can accurately call themselves masters of camouflage since they cannot rely on speed to avoid predation unlike their terrestrial namesake. These diminutive carnivores that feed primarily on planktonic organisms have adapted their shape and color patterns to effectively blend into shallow marine environments around the world. As one might expect, the greatest diversity of seahorses occurs in the Coral Triangle and every few Coral Triangle Adventures trips we are able to spot one. But, on our most recent trip to the reefs of Wakatobi, off the southeastern coast of Sulawesi, we were granted a super-rare treat – Pontoh’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi), found in just 15 feet of water. This tiny animal, just over 1 cm in length and looking more like a human embryo than a fish, has thus far only been recorded within the Coral Triangle and is not often seen. It goes to show that snorkeling slowly, paying attention to the environment, and learning to free dive, even to shallow depths, can pay off and can provide us once-in-a-lifetime views of creatures that appear as if they were dreamed up by a Hollywood FX artist.

Pontoh's seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi) is a rare treat for underwater naturalists

Pontoh’s seahorse