Syngnathid Surveys for Genomics


Archimedes Tender
West Palm Beach, Florida
May 24, 2024

Program Overview

Researchers were searching for seahorse, pipefish and a pipehorse species found off the Atlantic coast of Florida. This project aimed to locate and collect species that are needed for a genomics study to better understand the genetic relationships between fishes that exhibit male pregnancy. The genomes for each species representative will be sequenced and the target genes will be compared to the other focal species that have been collected throughout the world for this family of unique fishes.


This project aims to sequence whole genomes of fishes of the family Syngnathidae (seahorses, pipe horses and pipefish) to understand the evolutionary history of this group of fishes and the genetic basis of their unusual morphological and life history traits. Researchers are collecting key focal species from the diverse taxonomic groupings within the syngnathids found throughout the world to better understand their unique evolutionary adaptations and morphology by sequencing representative these species from across the entire phylogenetic range. The tremendous wealth of information contained in whole genome sequences makes them useful for conservation genetics and the evolutionary history of sequenced species. The focal species for this project are members of the family Syngnathidae, which all have evolved male pregnancy and unique brooding structures. By comparing genome sequences and morphometrics of these different species with other syngnathid fishes collected internationally, scientists will be able to reconstruct evolutionary changes that occurred in specific lineages and in particular genes of interest.

Expedition Summary

This expedition involved one day of diving and snorkeling from the vessel tender of the vessel Archimedes. Crew member Erith operated the vessel expertly, keeping divers safe and allowing researchers to accomplish their goals. Together, the team searched for study speices at more than five sites, and looked for seagrass coverage at several more. The selected vessel and expertise of both SeaKeepers and Archimedes staff allowed researchers to access areas that are both shallow and challenging to reach by other means, as well as maintaining safe diving practices. Although researchers didn't find their target species, they left the day satisfied that they had searched all reasonable habitats within their sampling permitted region. They even got a bonus sighting of a Hammerhead Shark to round out the research expedition!


West Palm Beach, Florida

Duration of Project


Research Team

  • Emily Rose PhD
  • Elyse (M.S. Candidate)
  • Adam Jones PhD


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