Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
Photographing them is really a challenge, because of their tiny size. Be aware: the seahorses in the picture above are about as big as the fingernails of my little finger!
So, to observe, some divers get a magnifying glass. And underwater photographers like me shoot them with a lens macro, which captures tiny subjects down to the smallest detail.
Finding them during a dive is therefore not easy. They are most often found in huge fan-shaped coral "bushes" gorgonians. To find them, it's a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack ...
So every time I choose to put the macro lens on my Canon Eos 7D, my two Indonesian guides Andi and Edi, from the resort Triton Bay Divers, carefully inspect the gorgonians and corals around.
It's a little competition between them, to whoever, first, will find the adorable pygmy seahorses!
But it's a game of patience, a delicate quest, not always successful. I am always very impressed when one of my precious guides manages to find these mini-sea horses, kings of camouflage, among the branches of a huge gorgon ...
In Triton Bay, I'm spoiled. I discover, over the days, that we find here, in abundance, the three most known and most coveted species by divers: seahorses bargibanti, denise and pontohi (I present them below).
So there is both variety and profusion on the same area. It's rare. Really, this Indonesian bay, located in West Papua, south of Raja Ampat, confirms its status as a "hot spot" for biodiversity. I spoke about it in this first post:
So here is the pygmy hippocampus bargibanti (Hippocampus bargibanti, also named seahorse pygmy gorgonians). It most often has small bumps of pink-purple or yellow-orange color.
The bumps of the bargibanti serve him as camouflage and allow him to merge with the branches of the gorgonians of the same color, also bumpy when their polyps are closed. In its pink-mauve version, it is the most common pygmy seahorse, the one I have most often photographed during my dives in the Indo-Pacific area. I also discovered in Triton Bay a variant with red bumps and white body: this type of hippocampus, particularly rare, is nicknamed "Santa Claus" by my guides, who are excited if they find one!
The pygmy hippocampus denise (Hippocampus denise, also named yellow pygmy hippocampus or Denise's pygmy seahorse) is more slender in appearance. It is also endowed with small protuberances, less numerous, and its color also varies according to its environment, from yellow-brown to pale pink.
He is similarly very talented to pass unnoticed or almost in the branches of gorgonians he lives. Less common than the bargibanti, it is highly coveted by underwater photographers.
Finally, there is the elusive and delicate pontohi (Hippocampus pontohi, also named Pontoh's Pygmy Seahorse). A rarity as difficult to spot as to photograph.
His white body adorned with red and yellow patterns allows him again to play hide-and-seek in the middle of the "twigs" of coral and algae leaves where he likes to take shelter, on the walls or underwater walls ... And I even once saw his cousin on servensiless flamboyant, with a brownish color.
These graceful little sea horses do not like - but not at all - the pictures. They are shy people who hate to be in the spotlight. The tail rolled up on their branch, as soon as they realize that they are interested in them a little too close, they prefer to pivot slowly ... and stubbornly turn their backs to the lens! It is sometimes infuriating.
It takes time, sometimes a lot of time, to photograph one in front or in profile. The most annoying thing is when he decides to change branches. It takes a long time to find it! The help of a guide with eyes of lynx is essential ...
Fortunately, I spent about ten days in Triton Bay dive three times a day. What to deliver me, patiently, to a photographic orgy of pygmy seahorses ... Their delicate beauty never ceases to amaze me.