Pygmy seahorses

Pygmy seahorse South Pacific ocean

Can you spot the seahorse? These tiny pygmy seahorses are hiding in plain sight.

Pygmy seahorses, which usually grow to around 1.5cm in length, can adapt their skin colour to match the local environment, making them masters of disguise.

There are so adept at camouflage that they blend in perfectly with the coral they live on, meaning they have little to fear from predators.

Marine biologist and seahorse expert, Dr Richard Smith, 34, took these stunning photos in the waters off Indonesia to show how well the pygmy seahorse can camouflage itself.

Dr Smith said: “They’re so well camouflaged they don’t need to actively avoid predators.

“Occasionally an opportunistic long-nosed hawkfish might try to seek them out, but they’re tiny and they don’t really move, so they don’t attract any attention.”

Pygmy seahorses are born black in colour but change their hue to match the coral they settle on.

Dr Smith said: “They sit with their tails coiled around a coral and stay put. They don’t need to actively avoid predators, because their camouflage is so good.

“They live their whole adult life on Gorgonian coral, eating tiny miniscule crustaceans and moving only slightly.”

Not much is known about the pygmy seahorse, which is found in the South Pacific ocean but it is thought that destructive fishing practices are threatening their natural habitats.

To see more of Dr Smith’s images, visit www.oceanrealmimages.com.

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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