This week’s Endangered Species of the Week is the greenmomster’s first fish – the seahorse (photo from animals.nationalgeographic.com)! There are approximately 48 species of seahorse, one-quarter of which are threatened with extinction. Seahorses live in shallow tropical and temperate waters around the world. Although they’re not good swimmers, these tiny fish (from 1/2 inch to more than a foot long) can manage to eat up to 3,000 brine shrimp per day. Seahorses use camouflage for protection and can anchor themselves to plants and coral by holding on with their tails. Seahorses’ main threats to survival include overharvest for both the Asian medicine and aquarium trade, loss of habitat, and loss by by-catch (non-target fish captured in fishing nets). Scientists and conservationists around the world are working hard to protect sea horses with innovative programs. Project Seahorse is one organization trying to protect seahorses by saving seahorses directly, protecting the world’s shallow seas, cleaning up fisheries, making the fish trade sustainable, and training conservationists. Scientists are also trying to develop captive breeding programs for seahorses – a very tricky task indeed.
So they’re fun to look at, but why do we really need to conserve seahorses? Here’s your answer from Wildlife Heroes, by Scardina and Flocken: “Seahorses’ unique reproductive behaviors could offer valuable insight into reproductive ecology. Additionally, seahorses are predator fish that prey on bottom-dwelling organisms – removal of the species from their habitat could disrupt the ecosystem balance.”
And now, 5 reasons seahorses are cooler than thoroughbreds (see also 5 reasons Przewalski’s horses are cooler than thoroughbreds):
- I’ve never fallen off a seahorse
- Seahorse males carry and give birth to the live young
- Seahorses are are monogamous
- Seahorses use their tails for more than just swatting flies
- Seahorses can breath underwater