On the 7th of April we posted a blog about how awesome seahorses are, here is a timely follow up on why they need our help.
Seahorses have a very small home range and are very vulnerable to changes in their habitat. A lot of seahorses mate for life but they don’t live together. The female will visit the male everyday to curl their tales around each other. If it happens that one of them dies the other seahorse will take a long to find a new mate and even might be at risk of never reproducing again.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) have on their Red list of threatened species, 11 out of 35 seahorse species listed as vulnerable with one even considered endangered. The rest of the seahorses are listed as Data Deficient demonstrating the lack of knowledge about seahorse biology. So every time you\ see one of these amazing animals you may be making observations still relatively new to science.
One of the main threats to seahorses is their use in traditional Chinese ‘medicine’. Seahorses have been used for so called treatment for over 600 years. Seahorses and close relatives, like pipefish, are believed to cure a wide variety of illnesses from asthma to impotence,and together with medicine they are also eaten as a tonic food. Yes it is complete nonsense.
Furthermore seahorses get caught in the wild and are put to in private aquariums, while dead seahorses are incorporated in to jewellery, key chains and other crafts. Other factors which make the seahorses more vulnerable are blast fishing, coastal development, mangrove conversion or getting caught in by-catch – for example by shrimp fishing where they do bottom trawling.
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So how can we help?
As soon as you are a diver or even a snorkeler you can take part in helping seahorses.
Seahorses are difficult to study in the wild because of their ability to camouflage, as their surroundings.
Therefore scientists need our help, if you see any seahorses in the wild you can help by reporting it on ISeahorse.org. By reporting where and what kind of seahorse you see, scientists can then use that data for research and can cross reference it with other users sightings.
So on your next trip to Malapascua get a photo of the seahorses we have all around the island and get involved!
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