Tiny new seahorse discovered

The Japan pig is only the size of two grains of rice

For years, divers have been catching glimpses of tiny seahorses miles off the south coast of Japan, but it’s only now that they’ve been described as a new species of pygmy seahorse – Hippocampus japapigu, the ‘Japan pig’.

While most seahorses prefer deep water where temperatures are more consistent, the Japan pig lives among algae and seaweed in shallow water near Hachijo-jima Island. At just 15 millimetres (0.6 inches) long and covered in dappled colours, it can be hard to spot.

Seahorses are notoriously poor swimmers, covering just a few centimetres in an hour, but this new species appears to be relatively active and playful.

The scientists that described the Japan pig believe its miniscule size may be keeping it safe. Larger seahorses are in decline as they’re caught for use in traditional Chinese medicine, but the pygmy seahorses are too small and difficult to find.