Seahorse pygmy denise. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016.)
Seahorse pygmy denise. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016.)

Shy as a pygmy seahorse

  Indonesia: Triton Bay - March 2016

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: 

These tiny sea horses are a-do-ra-ble! ! ! But they are shy, who hate to be photographed ...

Mini, mini, mini ...

Triton Bay, Indonesia, where I stayed in March 2016, deserves to be renamed "the bay of the pygmy seahorses". I think I have never seen such a concentration of mini-sea horses in my life as a diver.

These tiny bargibanti pygmy seahorses are no bigger than the nail of my little finger ... (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016)
These tiny bargibanti pygmy seahorses are no bigger than the nail of my little finger ... (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016)

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 ...

Are there pygmy seahorses in this gorgon? (Triton Bay, March 2016.)
Are there pygmy seahorses in this gorgon? (Triton Bay, March 2016.)

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.

Does this gorgon harbor a family of pygmy seahorses? (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016.)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:

→ Diving under the coconut palms of Triton Bay

bargibanti

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.

A purple bargibanti hippocampus poses on its gorgonian branch. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016)
A purple bargibanti hippocampus poses on its gorgonian branch. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016)

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!

Denise

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.

Seahorse pygmy denise. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016.)
Cuckoo, the hippocampus denies! (Triton Bay, March 2016.)

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.

Pontohi

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.

Seahorse pygmy pontohi. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016.)
Very shy, the pontohi lives in "twigs" of coral. (Triton Bay, March 2016.)

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.

Seahorses orgy

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.

Pygmy Seahorse bargibanti. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016.)

Seahorse pygmy denise. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016.)

An adorable Pygmy Seahorse Bargibanti in its purple gorgon with wide open polyps. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016)
An adorable Pygmy Seahorse Bargibanti in its purple gorgon with wide open polyps. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016)

Seahorse pygmy denise. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016.)

Seahorse pontohi pygmy. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016.)

Pygmy Seahorse bargibanti. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016.)

29-seahorse-denise

Seahorse pontohi pygmy. (Triton Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2016.)

30-seahorse-denise

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  Indonesia: Triton Bay - March 2016

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