We recently set out on an amazing race, criss-crossing the Philippines by plane, boat, bus and car in less than 3 months, to uncover seahorse trade and exploitation. We discovered that 1.7+ million seahorses are caught per year in the Philippines, compared to over 4 million per year 20 years ago.
In part two of this three-part series, marine ecologist Emilie Stump reports on threats impacting seahorse habitats and populations in Biscayne National Park, with a focus on the relationship between land use and water quality and the commercial bait shrimp fishery.
Video clip by BBC Earth: Millions of seahorses are caught every year, threatening their global survival
This month we’re highlighting a whole herd of White’s seahorses (Hippocampus whitei), thanks to scale-blazing scuba diver Tony Strazzari! Despite only joining iSeahorse on May 18th, Strazzari has posted over 140 seahorse observations under the username of tonydiver, backdated all the way to 2014.
Almost 20 years after first documenting the extent of seahorse trade in Viet Nam, we returned to see what, if anything, has changed.
Surreal. Magical. Odd. Those three words immediately jumped to mind when I saw my very first seahorse in the wild.
“I then had an idea to save the seahorses so that we could always live with these magnificent creatures, but how could I put this idea into practice?“
This month's featured iSeahorse observation highlights a champion hide-and-seeker, Denise’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus denise), courtesy of iSeahorse user maractwin. With their petite size and puppy dog eyes, they seem more like seadogs than seahorses
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.
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!).
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 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).
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.