Seahorses, pipefishes, ghost pipefishes and shrimpfish. Part 7 of my documentary, “Mucky Secrets”, about the fascinating marine creatures of the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia. Watch the full documentary at
In this video I take a look at members of the order Syngnathiformes, ray-finned fishes with long tubular snouts and elongate bodies.
The spotted seahorse, Hippocampus kuda, also known as the common seahorse, adapts its skin color to blend in to its environment. It has small hairs which gather algae and other matter to increase the camouflage. It feeds on small crustaceans, and its eyes can move independently to maximize its field of vision. It anchors itself to the seabed using its prehensile tail. The male seahorse incubates eggs then fetuses in a brood pouch on its belly until they are ready to hatch.
The tiny pygmy seahorse, Hippocampus bargibanti, is perfectly camouflaged amongst the branches of gorgonian seafans. Pygmy seahorses are so small and well camouflaged that they were only discovered in 1969 in a sea fan that had been collected by staff of an aquarium.
Pipefishes (Syngnathinae) are closely related to seahorses. They share the same long snout and toothless mouth, but have a straight body with ridges running along it. The ornate pipefish, Halicampus macrorhynchus, is well camouflaged to match its environment. The short-tailed pipefish, Trachyrhamphus bicoarctatus, resembles a gorgonian sea whip, and we see a translucent gorgonian shrimp, Manipontonia psamathe, standing on its back.
The banded pipefish, Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus, is a type of flagtail pipefish. The large, colorful tail fin makes it a faster and more agile swimmer than most other pipefishes and is used in courtship and territorial displays. Like seahorses, it is the male that incubates the young. Females compete to deposit their eggs in compartments under its abdomen. Scientists have suggested that the process of sexual selection continues after copulation. The males tend to fertilise and nurture the eggs of attractive females, while the eggs of less attractive females may be neglected or even digested by the male as he prepares for future pregnancies.
Ghost pipefish, family Solenostomidae, are usually found in pairs and are very highly camouflaged. Robust ghost pipefish, Solenostomus cyanopterus, are common in the Lembeh Strait, as are ornate ghost pipefish, Solenostomus paradoxus. We encounter a female ornate ghost pipefish churning her eggs between her pelvic fins to aerate them.
Finally we encounter a school of rigid shrimpfish, Centriscus scutatus, also known as grooved razor-fish, on a night dive.
There are English captions showing either the narration or the common & scientific names of the marine life and the dive site names.
Thanks to Kevin MacLeod of for the music tracks, “Water Prelude” and “The Other Side of the Door”. These tracks are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Thanks to Purple Planet ( for the track “Biosphere”.
Thanks to the staff and keen-eyed divemasters of Two Fish Divers ( for accommodation, diving services and critter-spotting.
Full list of marine life and dive sites featured in this video:
00:00 Spotted Seahorse, Hippocampus kuda, Hairball
00:17 Spotted Seahorse, Hippocampus kuda, Jahir
00:36 Spotted Seahorse, Hippocampus kuda, Makawide
01:09 Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus bargibanti, Nudi Retreat
02:32 Gray’s Pipefish, Halicampus grayi, Makawide
02:44 Ornate Pipefish, Halicampus macrorhynchus, Nudi Retreat
03:04 Ornate Pipefish, Halicampus macrorhynchus, Nudi Falls
03:10 Short-tailed Pipefish, Trachyrhamphus bicoarctatus, Makawide
03:16 Short-tailed Pipefish, Trachyrhamphus bicoarctatus, Critter Hunt
03:20 Translucent Gorgonian Shrimp, Manipontonia psamathe, Critter Hunt
03:42 Short-tailed Pipefish, Trachyrhamphus bicoarctatus, Makawide
03:53 Banded Pipefish, Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus, Tanjung Kusukusu
04:08 Banded Pipefish, Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus, Aer Perang
04:40 Robust Ghost Pipefish, Solenostomus cyanopterus, TK 1 (Teluk Kembahu)
05:00 Robust Ghost Pipefish (tentative), Solenostomus cyanopterus, Nudi Falls
05:21 Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Solenostomus paradoxus, Aer Perang
05:37 Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Solenostomus paradoxus, Aw Shucks
05:54 Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Solenostomus paradoxus, Hairball
06:17 Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Solenostomus paradoxus, Hairball
07:06 Ornate Ghost Pipefish (juvenile), Solenostomus paradoxus, Jahir
07:24 Rigid Shrimpfish, Centriscus scutatus, Tanjung Kusukusu
08:01 Short Dragonfish, Eurypegasus draconis, Nudi Retreat