I still vividly remember finding out that all seahorses had been listed on CITES* Appendix II. It was November 2002 and I was in Chicago, sitting in the lobby of the Shedd Aquarium (a long time Project Seahorse partner). My phone rang. It was Amanda Vincent, Project Seahorse director, calling me from Chile to tell me the proposal had received the 2/3 majority vote needed to be brought into force. I was early in my career and had not been involved with CITES for very long – but I knew this was something to get excited about
We picked a “blooming” beauty for our latest featured iSeahorse observation - a long-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus) sporting a bouquet of fleshy fronds. This photo was snapped near Stratoni, Greece, by Dr. Miguel Correia, one of our iSeahorse National Seahorse Experts and a member of the IUCN Seahorse, Pipefish and Seadragon Specialist Group.
In April we were showered with Bargibant’s pygmy seahorse observations! iSeahorse user nudisusie (aka Susannah Erbe) spotted nearly a dozen of these knobbly cuties clinging to a single seafan in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
This prickly, plum-hued stunner is none other than the hedgehog seahorse (Hippocampus spinosissimus), our featured iSeahorse observation from March. The pic was posted by Evolution Dive Resort, which operates out of Malapascua Island, Philippines.
Our celebrity species this month is Hippocampus trimaculatus, aka the three-spot seahorse. Thanks, iSeahorse user davidr, for spotting this spotless three-spot!
Our most recent featured iSeahorse observation is Hippocampus hippocampus, the short-snouted seahorse. Thank you to iSeahorse user Tamsyn Mann for this exclusive snapshot from the English coast.
In part two of this three-part series, marine ecologist Emilie Stump reports on threats impacting seahorse habitats and populations in Biscayne National Park, with a focus on the relationship between land use and water quality and the commercial bait shrimp fishery.
Our latest featured iSeahorse observation is a trio of scenic snapshots nabbed by iSeahorse user sharejosie, aka Josie Jones. She saw all three seahorses - two Big-belly seahorses (H. abdominalis) and one Short-head seahorse (H. breviceps) - between October 6th and 8th in Melbourne, Australia. Both species are unique to the region, with H. abdominalis found in New Zealand as well.
Our latest featured fish is a thorny seahorse (Hippocampus histrix) with skin as orange as the Jack-o-lanterns currently adorning the porches of Vancouver (where our Canadian office is located). At the time that iSeahorse user designedforx snapped this photo, the citrus-hued steed was hanging out in Kenya’s Wasini Channel.
Part one of a three part series: in this first part Ecologist and marine life artist Emilie Stump commemorates a national treasure with her latest multimedia piece, “The Three Seahorses of Biscayne National Park”
Our latest featured iSeahorse observation is courtesy of Jemma, aka jemmaudc, who works at Utila Dive Center, our iSeahorse Ambassador for Honduras. This ethereal beauty was spotted off the Caribbean coast, and has been identified as a longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi), which has a range spanning from North Carolina to southern Brazil.
Video clip by BBC Earth: Millions of seahorses are caught every year, threatening their global survival
The latest iSeahorse VIP-horse is Hippocampus capensis, also known as the Knysna seahorse, an Endangered species hailing from just a few South African river mouths.
So, what makes the Knysna seahorse so endangered? Dr Dave Harasti’s musings on Hippocampus capensis and the work being done to protect it…
This month we’re highlighting a whole herd of White’s seahorses (Hippocampus whitei), thanks to scale-blazing scuba diver Tony Strazzari! Despite only joining iSeahorse on May 18th, Strazzari has posted over 140 seahorse observations under the username of tonydiver, backdated all the way to 2014.
Almost 20 years after first documenting the extent of seahorse trade in Viet Nam, we returned to see what, if anything, has changed.
By Kately Nikiforuk
May’s featured iSeahorse observation is a trio of jaw-dropping action shots, courtesy of user thumbwave (aka Craig Chaddock). The intrepid citizen scientist witnessed a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) pick up and immediately let go of a Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens), which clutched its grassy holdfast throughout the ordeal. After the seahorse was dropped, Craig managed to capture the split second before it vanished beneath the water’s surface. From this novel angle, the seahorse almost looks like a mini Loch Ness monster.
Seahorses, though predators themselves, are preyed upon by a wide range of animals. More than 80 species have been found with seahorses or pipefishes in their bellies. Examples of known seahorse snackers are loggerhead sea turtles, fairy penguins, skipjack tuna, spottail porgies and horn sharks. Because of their low abundance and meagre caloric value, predators probably feed on seahorses opportunistically, rather than being specialized to hunt them. Pacific seahorses, which are Vulnerable (IUCN Red List), are far more threatened by the shrimp trawling industry than by opportunistic predators such as great blue herons.
So why was the heron’s catch released? Was it a slip of the beak or an outright rejection? Seahorses have bony plates instead of scales and aren’t very nutritious, so perhaps the bird simply didn’t have time for a crunchy, skimpy meal. Regardless of why this happened, there’s no question that these photos were impressively timed. Thanks for sharing with us, Craig!
Learn more about seahorse predators here:
Kleiber D., L.K. Blight, I.R. Caldwell, and A.C.J. Vincent. 2011. The importance of seahorses and pipefishes in the diet of marine animals. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 21(2): 205-223. DOI: 10.1007/s11160-010-9167-5
Surreal. Magical. Odd. Those three words immediately jumped to mind when I saw my very first seahorse in the wild.