Notoriously difficult to rear, breeding seahorses in captivity is an art that remains elusive to all but a few. The Zoological Society of London, one of Project Seahorse's key partners in marine conservation, is having so much breeding success that they now have their hands full caring for a bevy of youngsters.
Using new techniques and equipment, the ZSL team has managed to breed 918 threatened short-snouted seahorses, which are all thriving behind the scenes at ZSL London Zoo's Aquarium.
"I first began work to breed our seahorses a year ago, which was quite a daunting task because they're so fragile to work with," explains ZSL's Sam Guillaume. "Last year we managed to breed a batch of fry, but sadly none of them made it through to adulthood. "This year marks the very first time we've managed to rear short-snouted seahorses to a stage where they're eating live food and I'm absolutely thrilled."
Sam attributes the team's success to the use of new feeding techniques and bio-orb tanks.
Brian Zimmerman, Assistant Curator - Aquarium, explains further in this video:
The shape of the tanks helps keep the seahorses in the water column and stops them from developing fatal amounts of gas in their gut. Once the seahorses reach adulthood they will be making their way to collections around the UK as part of a captive breeding programme.
ZSL and Project Seahorse have a long history of collaboration. Dr. Heather Koldewey, ZSL's Programme Manager for International Marine and Freshwater Conservation, co-founded Project Seahorse with Dr. Amanda Vincent and acts as the organization's Associate Director. Working together, the two organizations promote the worldwide conservation of seahorses and marine ecosystems.