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!).
Retired commercial diver (and regular iSeahorse contributor) ken_flan discovered this honey-hued head turner - a short-head seahorse (Hippocampus breviceps) - off the coast of Victoria, Australia.
February’s featured observation is actually three sightings of one bigbelly seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis), all posted recently by iSeahorse user Andrew Trevor-Jones but recorded over the course of several years off the coast of New South Wales, Australia. This rotund beauty has been dubbed “Rosie”. She was identified as the same individual based on her distinctive spot pattern.
The really big news out of Johannesburg is that regulating exports of marine fish species has become normal, part of the mainstream business of CITES.
The first showcased iSeahorse sighting of 2017 is of a thorny seahorse, Hippocampus histrix. It was found within the boundary of Mafia Island Marine Park, a region in Tanzania consisting of island, coastal and ocean ecosystems that are internationally acclaimed for their biodiversity.
December’s celebrity iSeahorse syngnathid is a long-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus). It’s one of two species hailing from Europe, its counterpart being the short-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus).
One story, however, had a positive message that stood out from the rest: the successful conservation of whale sharks along the coast of Gujarat, a state on India’s west coast.
November’s featured iSeahorse observation is of a Japanese seahorse, Hippocampus mohnikei. This little fish was spied off the Cambodian coast during a formal seahorse survey conducted by Projects Abroad Cambodia. The sighting is rather timely, considering the recent publication of a paper illuminating updates in knowledge about this species’ range, habitat and threats.
When I left for the CITES CoP, I told my 5 year old son that I was going to a meeting where all the world’s countries were coming together to make sure that all the animals and plants around today would be around when he grew up – and I left South Africa still convinced that this is exactly the best way to describe the CoP.
September’s featured iSeahorse observation comes to us from the Island of São Tomé. Nuno Vasco Rodrigues spotted a group of five West African seahorses, Hippocampus algiricus, near a small island off the west coast of Gabon, West Africa. This species is one of two occurring in the eastern Atlantic Ocean off of Africa (the other being Hippocampus hippocampus)
Our job was to find common challenges and opportunities for managing wildlife trade among seahorses, sharks, rays, humphead wrasse, European eels, and sturgeons. These very cool fishes are united as the first wave of fishes to come under global regulations, requiring that no export threaten wild populations. While that sounds good, the challenge, as ever, lies in the implementation … and that was our focus.
Historical map makers – who worked before the world was fully explored – drew dragons and mermaids at the edges of the known world. Today these mythical creatures have vanished from our maps; the world has been mapped by waves of explorers, surveys, and satellites. We have grown incredibly precise at mapping features as diverse as ocean temperatures, aquifers, and ocean habitats. Yet much remains unknown.
The iSeahorse featured observation for June comes to us from the island of Negros in the Central Philippines. Anna Pfotenhauer managed to snap this great photo of Barbour’s seahorse (Hippocampus barbouri) in just 3 metres of water.
Am I really a conservationist?
As a young marine biologist, I’m kind of ashamed to confess that I had never bothered to ask myself that question until last April, after I started fieldwork to initiate seahorse conservation in China. I took it for granted that I was.
This spectacular specimen of Hippocampus trimaculatus, commonly known as the three-spot seahorse, was spotted by iSeahorse user Anna Pfotenhauer (aka anna18) off the coast of Negros Island in the Philippines.
Despite the importance of biodiversity conservation, Project Seahorse has made me realize how little I had learned about it in high school.
This month's iSeahorse featured observation is from Negros in the Philippines. Nudisusie managed to capture this excellent shot of a very pregnant thorny seahorse, Hippocampus histrix . It looks as though he’s just about to give birth to a whole bunch of tiny seahorses.
Part 2 in this four-part series, Project Seahorse MSc student Clayton Manning ponders the question: "Hey, I'm in Australia doing seahorse research - How did I end up here?"