The ippolito (Italian form of the Greek Hippolytos, a compound name composed of the elements hippos (a horse) and lyein (to loosen, to free), hence "to release horses") is a fish of the genus hippocampus.
Although rumored sightings of the ippolito have been recorded by ocean explorers for some time, the first verified find was as recent as early 2008. This specimen was found at an outpost of Atlantis, and indeed, those outposts have to date proven to be the only known breeding grounds for these beautiful and unusual creatures. A great mythology has grown around the ippolito, including the legend that each ippolito is the reincarnation of a brave Atlantean who died in defense of their home. More recent myths also abound; the claim that wearing an ippolito makes your swordfighting and rumble 3% less effective, but makes drinking and bilging 5% more effective, is probably not true.
In appearance and size, it is similar to the hippocampus ingens, although with a somewhat fuller body. The outer edge of the ippolito's tail has patches of dense bristly hooks, a little like velcro. This enables it to attach itself to surfaces and maintain its balance. Many seahorses take on bright colors in certain situations; the ippolito maintains its brighter hues at all times, and has been seen in colors ranging from aqua through to a dark blue. There is speculation that the colors change to duller brown and grey tones when they perceive themselves to be unobserved. Rigorous research to establish the veracity of this claim has been undertaken, but to date no peer-reviewed study has provided definitive data. Nevertheless, there is substantial anecdotal evidence for this theory (albeit evidence provided with a generous side order of rum) which persists despite the attempts of the wider scientific community to disprove the claims.
The ippolito has so far only been spotted around the ruins of various Atlantean outposts. The specimens recovered have been found in chests hauled up from wrecks in those outposts. It was originally believed that the ippolito found in this way had become trapped inadvertently in the chest. However, animal behavioral specialists suggest that the willingness of the ippolito to reside in dark spaces such as wardrobes indicates that the chest may have been intentionally chosen as a home – an example of submarine urbanization, perhaps.
The ippolito has a surprisingly diverse diet. In addition to foods considered normal for the species, such as brine shrimp, the ippolito has been seen to enjoy many forms of meat, fruit and baked goods.
Communication consists primarily of fin and tail movements. In addition, the ippolito makes a high squeaking sound in water that sounds like a hooting whistle in the air. The ippolito only winks, never blinks. In this way, there is always one eye open.
As with other seahorses, the male ippolito carries the young of the species. Every ippolito found so far is female. The reason for this is not clear, although it is thought that the males may keep to narrower and more secluded territories. The finders of ippolitos have given them male and female names despite this, many of them unaware of the gender of their new friends. The ippolitos themselves find this highly amusing, and take their new titles in good humor. Their own names for one another, in any case, are kinetically expressed rather than verbally.
Although a rare and retiring creature, the ippolito has shown surprising loyalty to any brave pirate who finds her, and can sometimes be seen on the shoulder of the lucky pirate with whom she has bonded, aided by the velcro-like patches on her tail.
Divers report that unlike many creatures, the ippolito does age, and once it reaches a certain age (as yet there is insufficient data to be exact), it will head into deep water and attach itself to the underside of a rock to die.
The ippolito always goes all-in pre-flop.