Cosmocampus balli (Fowler, 1925)
Only a handful of divers or snorkelers have seen this endemic pipefish, or even know of its existence. Norton Chan, of the Waikiki Aquarium, found this one about 8 ft. deep off Waikiki in some thick algae. These animals apparently spend most of their time lying on the bottom, hidden in rubble or seaweed. Bottom-dwelling pipefish such as this are often somewhat sluggish, but Ball's Pipefish thrashes back and forth vigorously and can move fairly quickly when disturbed. Almost nothing is known about the species except that it is entirely white and occurs only in Hawai`i along shallow, protected shores. One commercial aquarium collector I spoke with told me he finds them occasionally, sometimes in pairs, but doesn't bother to collect them as they hide all the time and don't make very good pets. The largest specimens are about 2 1/2 in.long. I photographed Norton's find at the Waikiki Aquarium. It died shortly thereafter, apparently after having been stung by a sea anemone (Aiptasia).
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Text and photos copyright by John P. Hoover