Caught and Coloured: Zoology Illustrations from Colonial Victoria

Common Seadragon, Phyllopteryx taeniolatus

Image Details
  • Plate Number: 65
  • Media: Drawing - Pencil and indian ink on paper
  • Lithographer: Ludwig Becker
  • Location: Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip Bay, Hobsons Bay
  • Primary inscriptions: nat. size. A magna 3 times.
  • Secondary inscriptions: 14 pectoral / 20 dorsal
Transcript from the Prodromus of Zoology

Plate 65, Figure 2. Short-headed Sea-Horse, Hippocampus breviceps (now known as the Shortsnout Seahorse, Hippocampus breviceps) found in Hobson's Bay

The extraordinary resemblance to a horse's head and neck has suggested the popular name of Sea-horse for these beautiful little fishes in all European countries...

They are the most lovely and interesting objects in an aquarium. In swimming they maintain an erect position, very unlike other fish. Fixing themselves to a stem of swaying seaweed by their inrolled prehensile tails, they maintain an upright watchful attitude, balancing themselves by their pectoral fins, and rolling their bright, prominent, yellow eyes about in all directions, one often directed forwards and the other backwards, like the chameleon.

Like all the family Syngnathidæ, or Pipe-fishes, the males carry the eggs about for a period in a sac along the under surface of the tail-a marsupial habit "with a difference," as far as the sex is concerned, of a curiously suggestive kind, as to why males should not in other creatures have the trouble of protecting the young instead of the almost universal arrangement of leaving it to the females.

This little species is common in Hobson's Bay, but has not been figured before.