The Denise Pygmy Seahorse (Hippocampus denise) is one of the several Pygmy Seahorses to be seen in Lembeh Strait. Like its bigger cousin – the Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse – it lives in Seafans. But this species is not restricted to one type of seafan. It can be found it different types of seafans AND in different body variations. There are smooth and bumpy versions of this species as well as some variations in colour. The bumps on the body depend on how the seafan looks with retracted polyps: So bumpy Pygmies on bumpy Fans and smooth Pygmies on smooth fans.
The Denise is also significantly thinner and smaller than the Bargibanti (which reaches up to 20mm) and only reaches about 12mm in maximum size. For comparison: The Pontohi Pygmy Seahorse also reaches about 12mm.
Where to find the Denise Pygmy Seahorse in Lembeh: As mentioned above the Denise Pygmy Seahorse lives in different types of Seafans in the spectrum of red, orange and brownish. The colouration of the seahorse always matches the fan and they are a little bit more skilled in camouflaging themselfs than Bargibantis. So you have to look very carefully. Like other Pygmies in seafans they are generally found deeper – at 10-15 meters at times but mainly deeper than 20m. All dive sites that have suiting seafans possibly have Denise Pygmy Seahorses, but traditionally Makawide, Nudi Retreat, Angels Window, California Dreaming, Mawali Wreck and Tangjung Tebal are good spots to start looking.
Photo advise: Best Lens to use is a 100mm or 150mm Macro lens – a teleconverter or a diopter can be added for extra magnification. A 60mm is not advisable as the strobes would touch (and damage) the seafan at minimum distance. Please also respect the animal: Do testshots on pieces of coral before shooting Pygmy Seahorses and then minimize your shots – they can’t close their eyes and they can’t swim away!