Rare relative of the seahorse caught in the Øresund

Researcher glad fish is still found in Denmark

A rare relative of the seahorse – the curve-snouted pipefish – has just been caught in the Øresund.

Associate Professor Peter Rask Møller from the Natural History Museum at the University of Copenhagen has been searching Danish waters for years for the fish to no avail.

But last Friday a 10 centimetre-long specimen turned up in a net during a fishing trip by biology students at the University of Copenhagen.

“I started to hop and down with delight when one of the students handed me the fish,” Møller told Videnskab.

The students were on the Øresund on the research ship Ophelia studying the species living in Danish waters. The students caught 41 different species. The curve-snouted pipefish was netted just north of Elsinore in 13 metres of water.

Not so rare after all
Møller and his colleagues are assembling an atlas of all the saltwater fish in Danish waters and had searched for the curve-snouted pipefish for years without success.”

“We were beginning to think that the species was extinct in Denmark,” said Møller.

The catch was not quite as rare as Møller thought. As he spread the news of his discovery, other employees of Øresundsakvariet came forward to say that they had also caught curve-snouted pipefish, and one as recently as April this year.

“Employees of Øresundsakvariet constantly fish the North Sound and they said that they recall netting about 10 curve-snouted pipefish over the past 15 years.”

Scientific sushi
Møller said that although his find was not as “sensational” as he had thought, he was just “happy that the fish was still found in Danish waters”.

Rare or not, Møller’s catch was sacrificed to science.

“We need tissue samples from the various research projects, and although it is very rare, there are more than we originally thought. So we are not worried about giving one up to research,” said Møller.