Northern Pipefish

(Sygnathus fuscus)

A northern pipefish

One fish that is heavily dependent upon SAV for its survival is the pipefish.  This fish resides within SAV beds where it clings to the grasses by wrapping its tail around a grass stem andf waiting for small invertebrates to swim by to become the pipefish’s lunch!  The grasses also serve as camouflage against predators.  In fact, the pipefish actually looks much like a piece of SAV.

The pipefish is a relative of the seahorse and actually looks much like a seahorse in terms of the shape of the head and the tough outer skin on the body.  As in the seahorses, the male pipefish carries the young in a brood pouch, which the young leave sometime after hatching from the eggs deposited there by the female.  The young pipefish look like miniature versions of the adults and will soon find their own place within an SAV bed after leaving the brood pouch.

Pipefish are caught almost every year at King’s Landing although they are somewhat rare.  Their excellent camouflage may be the reason that they are seen so infrequently during our seining surveys.

A graph of pipefish caught between 1997-2015
A graph of pipefish caught between 1997-2015