These projects have not only advanced seahorse conservation in my country, but they have also changed my life. Reflecting on the whole experience, I have three lessons about being a marine conservationist that I have learnt that I will share with you: ...
"It is difficult to understand and explain how on these lands, visited and studied by so many dedicated naturalists such as Charles Darwin and Alcides D´Orbigny that there were no records of seahorses inhabiting Patagonia."
Guest blog by Dr Diego Luzzatto
February’s iSeahorse featured observation is a pretty bigbelly seahorse and a pretty big deal - this marks iSeahorse’s 3,000th observation!!!
Seahorses enter a complicated system of trade from fishers to various levels of buyers and/or traders. By piecing together information from a number of different sources, we have been able to create a fuller, more accurate picture of the true catch and trade of seahorses in Viet Nam. More on that in part three of our blog, but in the meantime here are some images, taken by Hoang during his time in the field, which provide a glimpse into the life of a seahorse trade detective.
I went to Greece after a call from Vasilis Mentogiannis, a professional archaeological diver who contacted Project Seahorse to urge us to protect a local seahorse population. As I was not aware of any seahorse population in Greece (apart from some rare occasional sightings), I was very curious about this intriguing story.
I may have been shivering with cold, but my heart was leaping with excitement … I was face to face with the Patagonian seahorse, Hippocampus patagonicus, and it was magical. The species was only described in 2004 and is assessed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
December’s featured observation, posted by iSeahorse user John Sear, is of a species that’s been pretty newsworthy as of late. So, do you want the good news or the bad news first? Well, you’ll actually get them both at once - White’s seahorse (Hippocampus whitei) is now recognized as an Endangered species, according to a 2017 IUCN Red List assessment. While it is obviously not a good thing for a species to be Endangered, their new status can be seen as a step in the right direction. Recognition of their declining population could provide a necessary push to implement more conservation strategies.
Trawling catches pretty much all fish and invertebrates, even while wrecking habitats. It is the single biggest threat to seahorses, but they are hardly alone in that. Trawling is a devastatingly bad way to fish.
In 2000, I was given one of the best awards in marine conservation, a Pew Fellowship. It came with generous funding, which we applied towards work on non-food fisheries and towards obtaining the first global export controls on marine fishes (for seahorses) under CITES. It also came with the most wonderful gift of a meeting each year. But not your ordinary meeting…
After everyone was in, we plunged under - and opened a door to a whole new world, that of a coral reef ! You could actually inspect a fish closely and the words “underwater paradise” would not explain it! If you know the game/app called “Tap tap fish”, it looked just like that.
The October's highlighted observation is of the great seahorse (Hippocampus kelloggi), submitted by iSeahorse user Damaris Torres-Pulliza (@4reefs). Describing this picture as great is a bit of an understatement, actually - Project Seahorse biologist Lily Stanton said it reminded her of the famous Botticelli painting -The Birth of Venus !
This story begins in 1995 with Amanda Vincent and Marivic Pajaro uncovering a global seahorse trade of more than 15 million animals per year. Until then Viet Nam was reportedly a supplier of dried seahorses but little was known about the nature or magnitude of the trade, not to mention the status of the seven species of seahorses found along the shores of Viet Nam.
I was excited to be the opening keynote speaker at the Student Conference on Conservation Science in Bengaluru/Bangalore. Hundreds of aspiring conservationists from South Asia and a few from farther afield gather each year to share professional hopes and nurture ambitious dreams.
Today we had a chat with hope. We were at a dry and somewhat desolate landing beach up the coast from Tuticorin when along came a conservation hero.
September’s featured iSeahorse observation is a jaw-dropping pic of two fused-jawed fish! Many species of seahorse are monogamous and thus often found in pairs, as is the case here.
I’m not sure whether to be enthralled or appalled by the trawl fisheries of southern India. Probably both.
iSeahorse's featured seahorse for Augustis… drumroll please... a mystery!
July’s showcased iSeahorse snapshot features a particularly photogenic Pontoh’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi).
Does banning the catch and trade of a species really help conservation efforts? This is the question that my research with Project Seahorse, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, The University of British Columbia (UBC), explores. I am studying the impact of catch and trade bans on the conservation of incidentally caught marine species, and the livelihoods dependent on them. To understand this, I use the case study of seahorses in India, where the fisheries are poorly regulated.