Over the past few weeks we've blogged about our how Blue Guru's Ocean Action Project in Thailand's North Andaman Sea also contributes to international & national conservation projects relating to wonderful whale sharks, majestic mantas and terrific turtles. Now it's the turn of superb seahorses ...
Seahorses belong to the genus Hippocampus, formed by the Greek words for horse (hippos) and sea monster (campus). Anyone who has been lucky enough to encounter a seahorse will know that there is nothing monstrous about them! Any seahorse sighting is simply a super experience.
Sadly seahorses are heavily traded globally, dead or alive. Many end up in aquariums or as ingredients in Chinese Medicine. Another threat to seahorses is destruction of habitat such as mangrove & seagrass. Shrimp trawlers & shrimp farming are among the most destructive practices so avoiding eating shrimps can help protect seahorses.
IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species includes 39 species of seahorses. Current conservation statuses catagorise only 1 as being of least concern compared to 1 endangered, 10 vulnerable and 27 data deficient. This lack of data is why more research is required, so the conservation status of all seahorse species can be established and action taken accordingly.
All divers around the world can contribute to international research by reporting seahorse sightings to Project Seahorse via www.iSeahorse.org. Their website also includes links to handy seahorse ID guides.
Divers in Thailand can also report their sightings to Shark Guardian's eShark project, which is monitoring national seahorse populations too: www.sharkguardian.org.
Blue Guru's divers are most likely to see tiger tail seahorses at Richelieu Rock but they have also been spotted in Koh Phra Thong's local reefs, seagrasses & mangroves. Yet another good reason to protect these local habitats from fishing boat debris & anchor damage.