2024 Edition

Catherine Holmes

Hidden jewel

Bargibanti pygmy seahorse, Philippines, 2023

Category - Ocean Worlds

Hidden jewel

A tiny Bargibanti pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus Bargibanti) is seen here in its gorgonian fan home. Usually found nestled camouflaged amongst the fronds, I was luckily able to isolate the seahorse against the black background as it moved between branches. This showed off its delicate body, covered in tubercles, resembling the buds on the fan, and its anchoring prehensile tail. The seahorse has exceptional camouflage, able to change colour to blend in with its fan. It lives its entire adult life on a single gorgonian fan (Muricella paraplectana) and is one of the smallest seahorses in the world. This image was taken in Anilao, in the Batangas Province of the Philippines, a designated marine protected sanctuary. This area is at the core of the world's marine biodiversity. This beautiful jewel-like seahorse shines as a beacon of hope of renewal for our fragile and precious coral reefs so under threat from pollution and global warming, where species and ecosystems are disappearing at an unsustainable pace.

105 mm f/2.8 Lens - 1/250 sec at f/22 ISO 100