Africa - How an underwater photo led to the discovery of a tiny new seahorse species
Finding a species like Hippocampus nalu also shows how little we know about Africa’s marine biodiversity, and how much more is left to discover
Before you read this article, pause for a moment and look at the nail on your little finger. That’s about the size of a new species of seahorse discovered in the waters of Sodwana Bay, South Africa, which falls within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site, in KwaZulu-Natal province.
Hippocampus nalu grows to a maximum size of just two centimetres. It is the first pygmy seahorse ever discovered in African waters. Our team has conclusively demonstrated that Hippocampus nalu is physically and genetically distinct from the seven known species of pygmy seahorses.
Its nearest relatives are found more than 8,000 km away in the Pacific Ocean.