A small organization that achieves big conservation results

The recognized global authority on seahorses and their relatives, Project Seahorse is responsible for many scientific and conservation 'firsts' for these important and mysterious animals. We were the scientists to study seahorses underwater, the first to uncover the huge global trade in seahorses, and the first to establish a seahorse conservation project, in 1996.

As an action-oriented conservation group, we measure our success in terms of real-world change. We have generated 35 marine protected areas (MPAs) that serve as sanctuaries for seahorses and threatened ecosystems, and fostered an alliance of over 1,000 small-scale fishing families to enforce these no-take zones. We catalyzed landmark global trade protections for seahorses (under CITES Appendix II), and the first-ever export ban on seahorses, in Vietnam. 

Our work has been recognized with many awards, including the Rolex Award for Enterprise (1998), Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation (2000), Whitley Award in Animal Conservation (1994, 2006), and Disney Conservation Hero Award (2006). Dr. Amanda Vincent was a finalist for the Indianapolis Prize in 2010. 

At a glance


  • Through CITES, generated first global ban on exports of seahorse, in Vietnam (2013);

  • Established 35 locally managed marine protected areas in the Philippines to protect all marine life (1996-present);

  • Motivated Australia to regulate extraction of syngnathids (1998) and New South Wales to protect all syngnathids (2004);

  • Catalyzed the first global export controls for any marine fish of commercial importance, under the CITES (2002);

  • Implemented voluntary code of conduct for seahorse imports (no small ones and no pregnant males), in collaboration with Hong Kong Chinese Medicine Merchants Association (2002);

  • Fostered an alliance of 1,000 families of small-scale fishers, KAMADA, that is leading in the establishment of marine reserves and enforcement against illegal fishing in the Phillippines.


  • First biologist to study seahorses underwater (1986)

  • First estimates of seahorse growth and survival rates in the wild and making the discovery that many species form long-term monogamous pairs;

  • Uncovered global seahorse fisheries and trade, with tough field surveys and detective work (1993-96)

  • First seahorse identification guide (1999), which has become the core reference for seahorse conservation and management action;

  • First synthesis and analysis of seahorse life history (2004);

  • Produced over 200 primary papers, reports, and policy briefings (1989–present).


  • Le Cren Award (2018)

  • Finalist, Indianapolis Prize in Animal Conservation (2010, 2016)

  • Yves Rocher Woman of the Earth Award (2007)

  • Whitley Award in Animal Conservation, Royal Geographical Society (1994, 2006)

  • Conservation Hero Award, Disney Conservation Fund (2006), awarded to KAMADA

  • Chevron Conservation Award (2005)

  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums Significant Achievement Award for International Conservation for Project Seahorse (2001)

  • Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation (2000)

  • Rolex Award for Enterprise (1998)

  • Grand Prix International pour l’Environment Marin from the Conféderation Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (1997)