Journal archives for November 2018

November 06, 2018

The Near-threatened longsnout seahorse

Hippocampus reidi, longsnout seahorse. Photo by Jemma/Utila Dive Center.

Our latest featured iSeahorse observation is courtesy of Jemma, aka jemmaudc, who works at Utila Dive Center, our iSeahorse Ambassador for Honduras. This ethereal beauty was spotted off the Caribbean coast, and has been identified as a longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi), which has a range spanning from North Carolina to southern Brazil. 

Unfortunately, the population of longsnouts is in decline, likely due to a variety of factors including coastal development, which threatens the mangrove forests they call home, and fishing, whether they’re caught accidentally during trawling or intentionally for aquarium use. H. reidi is currently classified by the IUCN Red List as a Near Threatened species.

Fortunately, Utila Dive Center is doing some wonderful seahorse conservation work! Their GoEco program, run by Jemma, is committed to educating divers about local saltwater fauna and how they can contribute to protecting them. By conducting seahorse surveys and teaching students about seahorse conservation, this program has immensely contributed to iSeahorse’s mission. GoEco is also involved in the conservation of dolphins and coral, as well as population monitoring of invasive lionfish.

Thanks, Jemma and Utila Dive Center, for helping out Hippocampus!

View the original observation here
Learn more about Utila Dive Center

Posted on November 06, 2018 07:10 PM by projectseahorse projectseahorse | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Hippocampus capensis - the latest iSeahorse VIP-horse

Hippocampus capensis. Photo by the Knysna Basin Project.

The latest iSeahorse VIP-horse is Hippocampus capensis, also known as the Knysna seahorse, an Endangered species hailing from just a few South African river mouths. Thanks to our colleague Louw Claassens, the director of the Knysna Basin Project and iSeahorse National Seahorse Expert, for this spectacular shot and submitting it to iSeahorse. 

As a protected species, H. capensis cannot be removed from the water for either commercial trade or subsistence fishing. However, the very water they swim in threatens their survival, due to pollution and degradation of the three water bodies they call home, the Swartvlei, Keurbooms and Knysna estuaries. Their combined surface area is only about 27 square kilometres. The Knysna estuary, which is their primary habitat, inconveniently happens to be a site of heavy human activity.

The fact that their population declined by at least 50% in only a decade might sound pretty bleak, but luckily H. capensis has Louw Claassens on their side. The Knysna Basin Project has the same core objectives as Project Seahorse: research, education and conservation. One of their current endeavours is the Knysna Seahorse Status (KySS) project, a long-term, ongoing effort which started in 2014 to understand key elements of their biology. This has included studying everything from body size to home-range size, and involved the use of tools such as VIFE (visible implant fluorescent elastomer) tags and artificial Reno mattress habitats. 

Find out more here...

Posted on November 06, 2018 07:19 PM by projectseahorse projectseahorse | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 13, 2018

Featured iSeahorse observation from Kenya

Thorny seahorse (Hippocampus histrix) by iSeahorse user designedforx

Our latest featured fish is a thorny seahorse (Hippocampus histrix) with skin as orange as the Jack-o-lanterns currently adorning the porches of Vancouver (where our Canadian office is located). At the time that iSeahorse user designedforx snapped this photo, the citrus-hued steed was hanging out in Kenya’s Wasini Channel. The channel is adjacent to Wasini Island, which has a population of 3,000 residing in two villages, Mwkiro and Wasini, as well as the hamlet of Nyuma Maji.

In addition to Kenya, H. histrix is found along the coastlines of many countries bordering the Indian or Pacific ocean, such as Australia and Japan. Interestingly, there is some speculation that the global thorny seahorse population actually contains two or more cryptic species - distinct species that aren’t easily discovered due to their similar outward appearance.

More genetic analyses will need to be done to determine this, so for now, H. histrix is one seahorse species - and one of the six most frequently traded seahorse species at that. This has likely contributed to the thorny seahorse’s declining population, and their subsequent classification by the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable. Other African Hippocampus species, including the Endangered Knysna seahorse, are experiencing a downward swing in their numbers as well.

But while the seahorse populations are decreasing, we’ve been pleased to notice a recent increase in seahorse observations posted to iSeahorse from African countries, including Mozambique and Tanzania. This is very exciting, and we hope this trend continues. Please let us know if you have seen a seahorse in African waters, whether it happened yesterday or three years ago!

See the original observation here

Explore other recent thorny seahorse sightings

Posted on November 13, 2018 06:03 PM by projectseahorse projectseahorse | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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