Often confused with Hippocampus bargibanti, H. denise wasn’t recognized as a different species until 2002. It’s named after Denise Tackett, the underwater photographer that brought attention to its differences from H. bargibanti, including smaller size and lack of tubercles. It was originally believed to be the juvenile form of H. bargibanti. Closer inspection revealed it is in fact a seperate species.
Found at 13–90 m depth; it lives on seafans identified as Annella reticulata, Muricella sp. Echinogorgia sp.
Indonesia; Malaysia; Federated States of Micronesia; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Solomon Islands; Vanuatu
Small, no larger than 2.14cm. Smooth skin with only a few tubercles at most. Bent, asymmetrical appearance. Color matches host gorgonian, typically red, orange, or yellow. Females have a slender body with a small bulge at the base of their trunk. Males significantly more round in appearance.
Suspected to breed year round as males have been found pregnant at various times of the year. Suspected to be monogamous.