The taxonomy of Vietnam’s exploited seahorses (family Syngnathidae)

Seahorses (Hippocampus spp) are heavily exploited in Vietnam, but conservation and management measures are currently limited by the ambiguous taxonomic definitions of the genus in the region. Seven species of seahorse are identified in this paper as inhabiting the coastal waters of Vietnam. We used morphometric and DNA sequence data (from the cytochrome b region of the mitochondrial genome) to delimit the species. Species descriptions are put forward and we provide illustrations and an identification key to the species. The species are provisionally assigned to Hippocampus spinosissimus Weber 1913, H. comes Cantor 1850, H. trimaculatus Leach 1814, H. kuda Bleeker 1852, H. kelbggi Jordan and Snyder 1902, H. mohnikei Bleeker 1854 and H. histrix Kaup 1856. The current level of confusion in seahorse nomenclature means that some of these distinct species in Vietnam (in particular H. spinosissimus, H. kuda, H. kelloggi and H. mohnikei) may have to be renamed once a comprehensive revision of the genus has been completed.

Lourie, S.A., Pritchard, J.C., Casey, S.A., Ky, T.S., Hall, H.J. & A.C.J. Vincent (1999). The taxonomy of Vietnam’s exploited seahorses (family Syngnathidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 66:231-256.