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New Zealand Scientists May Have Discovered New Seahorse Species

By John B. Virata | July 24, 2014

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Scientists with New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research have discovered what they claim is a new species of seahorse off the Northland coast of New Zealand. The seahorse, about 3cm in length, was found in a small beam trawl research net that the researchers were using to capture and document their findings.

Underwater video of New Zealand's coastal habitat from NIWA on Vimeo.

GoPro cameras were used in the net as well to document their findings. They set out to capture footage as well as any new species that may occur in the area. In addition to the seahorse, which is being studied to determine if it is indeed a new species, the scientists found a frogfish, several dolphins and a juvenile great white shark that bumped one of the cameras as it swam by.


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A potentially new seahorse species found in New Zealand. Photo by Crispin Middleton

"Our knowledge of what lives in the coastal zone is scant. For instance, while we believe estuaries provide critical nurseries for a range of fish species, we cannot prove that until we know their relative contributions compared to possible alternative coastal nursery areas," said NIWA marine ecologist Dr Meredith Lowe. "During our survey, 'new' snapper nurseries and associated habitats were found in Te Rawhiti Strait, Bay of Islands, and in inner Doubtless Bay. We can now combine these data with previously collected estuary data to estimate what the relative nursery values are."

The new data is expected to help inform the island nation’s fishery and ecosystems management decisions, Lowe said.
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