Save the Seahorses
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.
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.
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.
Beyond visiting the Aquarium's seahorse gallery and supporting
conservation efforts, there are things that can be done to help:
buy dried seahorses in craft stores or at beach shops. They
were actually live animals, killed simply to make decorative
keep seahorses in home aquariums. Seahorses have special
water quality and food needs that only the most expert home
aquarists can meet.
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.