West African Seahorse – Hippocampus algiricus
The West African Seahorse is a species in the order of the Syngnathiformes and thus belongs to the superclass of bony fish. Hippocampus algiricus was first described in 1856 by Kaup. In 2015, an article appeared confirming the occurrence of the West African Seahorse in the Canary Islands for the first time.
The West African Sea Horse has a long, cylindrical body. Unlike other species, Hippocampus algiricus has no processes. Above the eyes and in the area of the throat, there is a small protruding bumps. In general, all spines are only rounded, small bumps.
The colouration is variable. Over the body are small white spot and / or brown spots spread.
Hippocampus algiricus is up to 19cm long.
A description of recognition features can be found here.
Habitat and Distribution
Like all seahorses, the West African seahorse lives on the seabed, mostly attached to corals or sponges. In addition, it prefers areas near the coast. About the depth is not much known. The picture above was shot in about 35m of depth.
When diving in the Canaries you can find Hippocampus algiricus very rarely. So far I’ve only seen one individual myself.
The distribution area spreads along the West African coast from Senegal to Angola. so it can be found in Angola, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo. Furthermore it is spread around Atlantic islands such as São Tomé and Príncipe.
Since the West African Seahorse was only recently discovered in the Canary Islands, it can be assumed that it is more widespread than it is thought to be.
There is little known about the biology of the West African Seahorse. However, they are bad swimmers and usually only swim short distances. Most of them stay in place and snatch at passing plankton.
Hippocampus algiricus attains sexual maturity with about 9cm. As with other species of seahorses, the male takes the brood care. This is done in the brood sac.