MOST Threatened Species

Like most other species, both terrestrial and marine, seahorses, pipefishes, sticklebacks, and their relatives face many threats, including habitat loss, pollution, climate change, invasive species, and direct exploitation in the form of overfishing and bycatch.

The extent of these threats vary from species to species.  We know, for example, that the Cape seahorse (H. capensis) is endangered, owing to the fact that its geographical range is limited to a few South African estuaries, where human activity encroaches on its habitat. We can say conclusively that the other species on the list below are also threatened with extinction.

It should be noted, however, that many of the 350 or so species under our remit may also be threatened. For now, we simply do not yet have enough information to determine their conservation statuses. Our goal, as the IUCN SPS SG, is to assess every single species of seahorse, pipefish, seadragon, and their relatives and spur conservation action where it’s needed.

To take action yourself to help protect these species and for ocean conservation see our Taking Action section!


Photo Scientific Name Common Name IUCN Red List Status Profile Range
h-waleananus S. watermeyeri
Smith, 1963
Estuarine Pipefish CR logo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl South Africa
capensis H. capensis
Boulenger, 1900
Cape seahorse EN icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl S. Africa
h.whitei_sm H. whitei
Bleeker, 1855
White's seahorse EN  icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Solomon Islands, E. Australia
h-waleananus M. pleurostictus
Peters, 1868
Luzon river pipefish; 湖沼腹囊海龍 EN logo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Asia
h-waleananus C. balli
Fowler, 1925
Ball's pipefish VU logo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Eastern Central Pacific
h.algiricus_sm H. algiricus
Kaup, 1856
West African seahorse VU icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl W. Africa
h.barbouri_sm H. barbouri
Jordan & Richardson, 1908
Barbour's seahorse VU icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Indo-Pacific
h.comes_sm H. comes
Cantor, 1849
Tiger-tail seahorse VU icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl SE Asia
h.erectus_sm H. erectus
Perry, 1810
Lined seahorse VU icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl W. Atlantic
h.histrix_sm H. histrix
Kaup, 1856
Thorny seahorse  VU  icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl W. Indian Ocean to Central Pacific
h.ingens_sm H. ingens
Girard, 1858
Pacific seahorse VU  icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl California to Peru
h.kelloggi_sm H. kelloggi
Jordan & Snyder, 1901
Great seahorse  VU icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Indo-Pacific to E. Africa to China & Australia
h.kuda_sm H. kuda
Bleeker, 1852
Spotted seahorse  VU icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Indo-Pacific
 h.mohnikei_sm H. mohnikei
Bleeker, 1853
Japanese seahorse VU icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Japan & Korea to Thailand
h.waleananus H. patagonicus
Piacentino & Luzzatto, 2004
Patagonian seahorse VU icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl  Brazil to Argentina
h.spinosissimus_sm H. spinosissimus
Weber, 1913
Hedgehog seahorse VU  icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl  Indo-Pacific
h.trimaculatus_sm H. trimaculatus
Leach, 1814
Three-spot seahorse VU  icon_iseahorselogo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl  Indo-Pacific
h-waleananus M. insularis Hora, 1925 Andaman pipefish VU logo_wikilogo_eolGBIFurl Asia

IUCN Red List key

EX = Extinct 
EW = Extinct in the Wild 
CR = Critically Endangered 
EN = Endangered 
VU = Vulnerable 
NT = Near Threatened 
LC = Least Concern 
DD = Data Deficient 
NE = Not Evaluated

(Click here for a full explanation of IUCN Red List categories.)

A note on ‘Data Deficient’ species: Species that are assessed as ‘Data Deficient’ are deemed to have insufficient information known about them to carry out a proper conservation assessment. Although such species are not assessed as threatened, we may find out that they in fact are, once enough data is obtained.


Banner image of Pontoh's seahorse (H. pontohi) by Tom van Hout/Guylian Seahorses of the World