The Pacific Seahorse (Hippocampus ingens) also called the Giant Seahorse, can be found from San Diego, California to Peru. This species has been documented at up to a foot long (30 cm), though most are found to grow to only about half this size. Males can be distinguished from females by a keel on their chests.
Pacific Seahorses have several traits commonly found in seahorse including, skin rather than scales, no teeth, and a digestive track but no stomach.
These incredible creatures can be found in depths of up to 60-meters, making their homes in coral and rocky reefs and in seagrass beds. They can camouflage themselves by changing shape and color. To compensate for their limited swimming abilities, they use their tales to anchor themselves to their environment and to catch a ride on seaweed and other passing objects when they need to travel long distances.
The Pacific Seahorse is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to threats to its environment and overfishing for the aquarium trade and Chinese medicine. We photographed this Pacific Seahorse during a dive in Hualtuco, Mexico. Read more in our post, Scuba Diving Huatulco, Mexico.