Seahorses are a flagship species for a wide range of marine conservation issues. Many seahorse species are listed as threatened on the World Conservation Union’s IUCN Red List. Seahorse biology and behaviour — for example, the young depend on parental survival far longer than most fish, and many species are monogamous — makes them susceptible to overfishing.
Seahorse populations need to be preserved for ecological, biological, economic, and medical reasons. These fishes are important predators on bottom-dwelling organisms; removing them may disrupt ecosystems. Their extraordinary life history — only the male becomes pregnant and pairs are monogamous in many species — provides us with an unusual opportunity to expand our understanding of reproductive ecology.
Subsistence fishers in some nations make a substantial portion of their annual income catching seahorses, and that dependence could increase as other fisheries decline. Many forms of traditional medicine employ seahorses to treat a range of conditions and ailments.
Project Seahorse director Dr. Amanda Vincent talks about seahorses:
Seahorses are flagship species, charismatic symbols of the seagrasses, mangroves, coral reefs, estuaries and seaweeds where they make their homes. Protecting seahorses means protecting these diverse habitats all of the marine life that lives therein.
Get it right for seahorses and we’ll keep our oceans alive.