New pygmy seahorse discovered in Sodwana Bay

Posted by Imogen Searra on 22 May 2020

Researchers have discovered a new species of pygmy seahorse in Sodwana Bay. Of the seven species of pygmy seahorse that exist, all except one are located in the Coral Triangle. The remaining species is found in Japan.

The Coral Triangle, situated in the southwestern Pacific is rich in biodiversity and spans over 5 million square kilometres, according to National Geographic. The distance between Sodwana Bay and the Coral Triangle is over 8,000km.

The seahorse has suitably been named the African or Sodwana Bay pygmy seahorse and its scientific name is Hippocampus nalu. This discovery has been equated to ‘finding a kangaroo in Norway’ by UK-based marine biologist Richard Smith.

Smith is a co-author on the study of this species alongside Graham Short, an ichthyologist at both the California Academy of Sciences and the Australian Museum in Sydney.

According to Smith, the African pygmy seahorse holds a resemblance to the other species. The difference is that this seahorse has a set of spines situated on its back that have sharp points on the tips, similar to incisors.

Short explained to National Geographic that he is unsure what the spines are used for. ‘Many species of seahorses in general are spiny, so their presence could be possibly due to sexual selection—the females may prefer spinier males,’ said Short.

The ocean is full of mystery and undiscovered species and this tiny seahorse is a testament to that.

Image credit: Richard Smith/

Image credit: Richard Smith/


Read the study here.


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