This photo of the Normanville SLSC was taken from the “Syngnathid Hotspot” site: –

Normanville SLSC

(Taken by David Muirhead)

‘Syngnathid Hotspot’ (colloquial term only) is that area of shallow sand and seagrass directly off of the Normanville SLSC (roughly a hectare in total area and max depth is 5m but most of the pipefish are at 2-3 m depth) which has no known equivalents globally with regards to its amazing Syngnathid biodiversity and endemism.

These are Stigmatopora nigra (aka ‘Widebody’ pipefish)

(Taken by David Muirhead)

Stigmatopora nigra (aka ‘Widebody’ pipefish) only develop wide, flat sections of body during their reproductive phase, which is seasonally brief and not seen in the above image.

Stigmatopora nigra develop wide, flat sections of body during their reproductive phase

(Taken by David Muirhead)

We have documented at least 20 species of Syngnathids there (between myself and about four other divers). That really is truly amazing!

Not all of those are present on any one dive obviously, but it’s easy to find 5-6 species on a good dive there in summer.

Stigmatopora nigra pipefish

(Taken by David Muirhead)

Only our two species of seadragon and one of our most common seahorses are in that total of 20, but the rest are all pipefish, some rare and most are very data deficient, including Verco’s pipefish, which was basically not known to occur outside of Pelican Lagoon on KI until we found them here.

We have photo proof of 20 species and some (very few, and those were carefully selected, mainly to fill gaps in availability of viable tissue for expert analysis. Voucher specimens for some species were collected so many decades ago they are in formaldehyde only, whereas ethanol is now the preferred preservant, particularly where tissue assays on small fish may follow) were collected under permit as museum voucher specimens for tissue /DNA studies.

SA sure has got some marine gem surprises!

By David Muirhead

David is a long-serving member of the Marine Life Society of South Australia. He has dived and snorkeled in South Australian waters for around five decades and has a particular interest in bony fishes. David has made the greatest single contribution to the society's Photo Index of local marine species.

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