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”
Video clip by BBC Earth: Millions of seahorses are caught every year, threatening their global survival
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.
Women DO participate in small-scale fisheries and often in ways distinct from men’s fishing. In this blog Dr Danika Kleiber (Project Seahorse Alumna) shares some of her experiences in working on this intriguing socio-cultural issue.
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: ...
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.
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…
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.
iSeahorse's featured seahorse for Augustis… drumroll please... a mystery!
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.
This is a guest blog by Andaya V, grade 5 student who is passionate about all creatures but especially penguins.
Ghost nets trap and kill more than 3.5 million animals a year. Each and every bit of ghost gear was left, lost, or abandoned, by fishers.
I’ve just had the most amazing week in Florida, filling my head with wonder and my heart with joy. I wasn’t sure what to expect on my first International SyngBio meeting where hundreds of researchers and professionals from all over the world were set to meet in Tampa, Florida. After all, I am new to the Syngnathid world.
Perhaps, as conservationists, we all need a sense of optimism. How much better to light a candle for the hope of saving wildlife, rather than curse the darkness of humanity.
“Extinction Lasts Forever” reads the colourful poster of a seahorse, wrasse, turtle, and octopus beside my desk at Project Seahorse. It reminds me of the poster hanging in my room as an undergraduate biology student, the one that said, “Protect them: because once they’re gone it’s too late.”
April’s featured iSeahorse observation is a Jayakar’s seahorse (Hippocampus jayakari). This lovely portrait was taken off the coast of Dahab, Egypt, by iSeahorse user poseidon. The username poseidon is certainly apt for a fish-whispering diver, as the Poseidon of Greek mythology is said to ride a chariot pulled by aquatic equines called hippocampi, which allegedly have horse heads and fish tails (sort of like seahorses… or horse mermaids!).