The Denise Pygmy Seahorse (Hippocampus denise) is the smallest described seahorse in the world and belongs to the Syngnathidae family which includes seahorses, pipefishes, pipehorses and seadragons. The name of Hippocampus denise was provided in honour of Ms Denise Tackett who brought this new pygmy seahorse to the attention of seahorse scientists who in 2003 described it as a new species. The name ‘Denise’ also come from the Greek word ‘Dionysus’ whom was the Greek god of wine which makes people ‘lively’.
This species can be found living in the warm tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean and has been found in Indonesia, Vanuatu, Palau, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Micronesia. This pygmy seahorse is generally plain orange in colour with slightly darker rings around the tail. It may also appear to be pale yellow or brown in colour. This species is only known to live on gorgonian seafans and has been found to be associated with several species of fans including Annella reticulata, Muricella sp, and Echinogorgia sp. This species is a master of camouflage and as a result of its very small size and its ability to blend in with its host gorgonian it can be incredibly difficult to find. As with all seahorses the males carry the eggs in a pouch and gives birth.
Hippocampus denise looks very similar in appearance to Hippocampus bargibanti and they were previously considered to be the same species. Hippocampus denise differs from Hippocampus bargibanti by having less obvious rounded bumps on the body, is smaller in size, they live on different host gorgonians and the females have a slender body. Hippocampus denise is known to grow to a maximum length of approximately 2cm.