Monte Bello Seahorse, Hippocampus montebelloensis Kuiter 2001

A Monte Bello Seahorse, Hippocampus montebelloensis, clinging to a crinoid (featherstar) on a sandy bottom at Port Hedland, Western Australia - depth 13 m. Source: Tony Ayling. License: All rights reserved


A whitish seahorse with black zebra-like bands and stripes on the body, and yellow tips on the spines.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Hippocampus montebelloensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Sep 2017,

Monte Bello Seahorse, Hippocampus montebelloensis Kuiter 2001

More Info


Endemic to tropical northwestern Australia, from Exmouth Gulf and Port Hedland. Inhabits inshore reef areas. The holotype was found amongst the macro-algae Sargassum in 5 m, and another individual was photographed clinging to a crinoid in 13 m.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin 18-19; Pectoral fin 15-16; trunk rings 11; tail rings 37.
Head and body: Head large, almost as long as trunk length; snout long, more than half head length; nasal-profile straight.
Spines and tubercles: Subdorsal spines 3/0,1,0; spine above eye of moderate size, length about pupil-diameter, slightly angled back; lateral head spine moderately large, recurving; nape spine elongate, directed forward; nasal-profile straight; shoulder ring with 3 spines of moderate size, uppermost and central spines at ends of pectoral-fin base, lowermost ventrally; superior trunk ridge sharp-edged with spines of small to moderate size on rings 1, 4, 7 and 11, extended by long dermal flaps at spine tips in some; superior tail ridge similar to superior trunk ridge, with enlarged spines at regular intervals, becoming progressively smaller posteriorly.
Coronet: Coronet moderately high, with 5 flat spines at apex, posterior 3 directed backward, central spine enlarged.
Lateral line: Lateral line present with pores detectable to about 14th tail ring.


Height to at least 78 mm.


Overall whitish, with black zebra-like bands and stripes on the body, and yellow tips on the spines. In preservative - overall pale brown with fine darker brown striations along head.


Carnivore - like most other seahorses, this species presumably feeds by sucking small prey items such as crustaceans and planktonic zooplankton into its mouth.


The female uses an ovipositor to transfer her eggs into an elaborate enclosed pouch under the abdomen of the male. The male not only provides physical protection for the developing embryos, he also osmoregulates and aerates the embryos and may provide some nourishment until the offfspring are born.


Although taken in trawls, there is no known trade in this species in the aquarium or Asian Traditional Medicine industries.


Listed under Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). As a result, the species is subject to the Convention,
Marine Listed under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act 1999).


The first known specimen of H. montebelloensis was found at the surface at night, clinging to a Sargassum fragment over 5 m of water.

Similar Species

Similar to H. zebra, which differs in being less spiny, in having a smaller head relative to the trunk length and alternating light and dark bands on the head and body. H. alatus occurs in the same region but differs in having its upper shoulder-ring spine near the gill-opening rather than near the pectoral-fin base.


The species is named montebelloensis after the Monte Bello Islands, Western Australia, the type locality of the species.

Species Citation

Hippocampus montebelloensis Kuiter 2001. Rec. Aust. Mus. 53: 326, fig. 36. type locality: off Trimoulle Island, Monte Bello Islands, Western Australia.


Dianne J. Bray

Monte Bello Seahorse, Hippocampus montebelloensis Kuiter 2001


Hoese, D.F., D.J. Bray, J.R. Paxton & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds.) Zoological catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia, 2178 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. TMC Publishing, Chorleywood, UK, 240 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2001. Revision of the Australian Seahorse of the genus Hippocampus (Syngnathiformes: Syngnathidae) with descriptions of nine new species. Rec. Aust. Mus. 53: 293-340.

Ouyang, L. & Pollom, R. 2015. Hippocampus montebelloensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T47728638A47728839. . Downloaded on 21 September 2015.

Pogonoski, J.J., D.A. Pollard & J.R. Paxton. 2002. Conservation Overview and Action Plan for Australian Threatened and Potentially Threatened Marine and Estuarine Fishes, Canberra, Environment Australia, 375 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37282121

Conservation:CITES Listed

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient; EPBC Act Marine Listed

Depth:0-13 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:7.8 cm (height)


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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map