Bargibant's pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti) was the first species of pygmy seahorse to be discovered. In 1969 a New Caledonian scientist, George Bargibant, was collecting specimens of Muricella spp gorgonians for the Noumea museum and whilst one of these was on his dissection table he happened to notice a pair of tiny seahorses. The next year they were officially named by Whitely as Bargibant's pygmy seahorse.
Bargibant's pygmy seahorses are found over the largest geographic range for a true pygmy seahorses, being found all the way from southern tropical Japan, throughout the Philippines, Indonesia, east to Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
They are smaller only than Coleman's pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus colemani), reaching a maximum total length of almost 2.7 cm. They are extreme habitat specialists, spending their entire adult life on a single gorgonian coral of the species Muricella paraplectana and M. plectana.
Probably due to their size and relative conspicuousness compared to other pygmy seahorses they are one of the most commonly observed of these species by SCUBA divers. Great care must be taken when viewing and photographing any marine life but these diminutive seahorses are particularly susceptible to damage from poor techniques. It is vital that neither the seahorses nor their gorgonian host are touched in any way and bright constant lights such as flash lights/torches have been shown to disturb the seahorse's natural behaviours.
Many of these images were taken at Wakatobi Dive Resort, southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. The resort has amongst the highest abundance and diversity of pygmy seahorses in the world.
Follow this link to more facts about the diet, habitat and diversity of pygmy seahorses.