Now you sea me, now you don’t
The Seahorse is among the most majestic of all marine creatures. Although rare, one could be gently swimming past your feet without you even noticing. Seahorses pair-up for life and it’s the father who gives birth! Sometimes to up to hundreds of offspring at a time.
There’s around 50 species of Seahorse (yes it’s a fish) worldwide with two main types found in the UK – the Spiny Seahorse and the Short Snouted Seahorse. They largely live from the Shetland Isles along the west and south coasts of the UK.
Save the seahorse
Studland Bay in Purbeck, Dorset, has long been home to these enigmatic animals. Indeed, the beach is said to be one of the only known breeding grounds for both the spiny and short-snouted species in the UK.
Local wildlife groups, conservationists and campaigners have become increasingly concerned about the health of the colonies among the in the Bay’s rich seagrass meadows. Some blame anchors from the many leisure craft which moor off the beach every summer. Others fear harsh winters or increased exposure to divers and snorkelers may be among the causes.
But Studland is a great beach to enjoy, and where humans and nature come into close contact invariably there can be conflict. To help give the species a better chance of survival, Dorset Wildlife Trust has been campaigning for Studland to be protected as a Marine Conservation Zone.
Across the world, other places where seahorses live are being destroyed or damaged. The Traditional Chinese Medicine trade uses many millions in its practices. The souvenir and curio trade also takes a million or more from the sea. Others are caught and sold as pets for home aquariums, where they’re difficult to keep and often die.
Captive breeding programmes in aquariums and zoos aim to reduce the amount being taken for display; and to have healthy captive population for release into the wild if needed. Meanwhile conservation organisations are joining forces to protect these most enchanting of sea creatures.
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