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Save the Seahorses


The enchanting creatures known as seahorses are unique and captivating animals whose survival is seriously threatened. Seahorses can be found in tropical and temperate seas all over the world and adults have few major natural predators. This is primarily because they are covered with bony plates and may be a less-than-tasty morsel for larger fish. However, several factors are contributing to the decline of seahorses and their relatives.

One cause of the declining populations is loss of habitat. These fragile animals live in coastal grassy areas, mangrove swamps and coral reefs - all areas that coincide with human activities. Pollution, changing shorelines and harmful fishing methods contribute to habitat loss and increase the seahorses' vulnerability.

Overfishing is another reason for the decline in seahorse numbers. The demand for seahorses far exceeds the supply. Most seahorses that are caught - an astounding 20 million a year - are used in traditional Chinese medicine. In some cultures, it is believed that seahorses benefit or cure many conditions including asthma, impotence and general lethargy.

In addition, millions of dried seahorses are purchased as souvenirs, to be used on key chains and as jewelry. Many are also sold for use in home aquariums, but few of these animals survive for long because maintaining seahorses requires resources not easily accessible to home aquarium enthusiasts. The United States is the largest importer of live seahorses.

Help protect seahorses
Beyond visiting the Aquarium's seahorse gallery and supporting conservation efforts, there are things that can be done to help:
  • Don't buy dried seahorses in craft stores or at beach shops. They were actually live animals, killed simply to make decorative trinkets.
  • Don't keep seahorses in home aquariums. Seahorses have special water quality and food needs that only the most expert home aquarists can meet.
  • Take care to protect our local waters, many of which flow into the Gulf of Mexico. Recycle your motor oil and apply lawn fertilizer sparingly. These local actions can help safeguard seahorse habitats miles from home.
   
 

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