Distribution Pattern of Seahorse species (Genus: Hippocampus) in Tamilnadu and Kerala Coasts of India
The survey along the Tamilnadu and Kerala coats of India reveled that six species of seahors (Hippocampus fuscus, H. kelloggi, H. kuda, H. histrix H. mohnikei and H. trimaculatus) were distributed with different density. Out of the six species, H. fuscus, H. kuda and H. trimaculatus, were the commonly available species in all the observed areas. In Palk Bay, H. kuda was the dominant species constituting 49.10% of the total seahorses encountered. Hippocampus trimaculatus was the second dominant species which accounting 39.28%. The Gulf of Mannar region also most abounded with H. kuda (68.98%) followed by H. trimaculatus (20.80%), H. fuscus (9.80%), H. kelloggi (2.23%) and H. histrix (0.37%). In Kerala coast, H. trimaculatus was the dominant species (79.68%) followed by H. kuda (9.89%), H. kelloggi (8.33%) and H. fuscus (2.08%). To infer the variation of six seahorse species the morphometric and meristic characters were analysed. The important morphometric and meristic characters are trunk rings, tail rings, pectoral and dorsal fin rays, trunk length, tail length, coronet height, head length, snout length, snout depth and head depth. Variation in overall body shape, relative snout length, coronet height, number of tail ring was sufficient to separate the specimens to Hippocampus fuscus, H. kelloggi, H. kuda, H. histrix H. mohnikei and H.trimaculatus. The species density and diversity depends on the habitat and biogeography of those areas. Majority of seahorse fishing in Tamilnadu was by shrimp trawl, by-catch and very few target catch by divers also seen in some villages of Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar region. The shrimp trawl by-catch only bringing more H. trimaculatus than the other species in Kerala coasts.
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