Seahorses and their relatives the sygnathids, found across the globe, face an ever-increasing number of threats to their survival. From harvest for Traditional Chinese Medicine and souvenirs, to habitat loss and global warming, Sygnathid populations in the wild are at risk.
Dried seahorses, pipefish and sea mothes headed for the TCM market.
20 millions seahorses a year are thought to be harvested for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Pipefish are becoming increasingly more popular in TCM as seahorse numbers dwindle. Habitat loss and destruction is also a huge problem for seahorses, as many of their homes are in costal waters or seagrass beds near shore, easily destroyed by development and pollution run-off. And global warming is changing many of the habitats these unique fish depend on. Poaching is a threat to the rare Sea Dragons, with individual Leafy Seadragons fetching up to $4000(USD) each. Poaching may become an increasing threat as seahorses populations dwindle from unprotected waters.
What you can do about it
Everyone can get involved in helping protect these wonderful animals. Don’t buy dried seahorses as souvenirs or decorative products that contain seahorses. Encourage legislators to pass laws that protect coastal waters from development and pollution run-off. Donate to conservation groups such as the Nature Conservancy and Project Seahorse. Only buy seafoods that are caught through safe methods that don’t result in incidental by-catch of seahorses – See the Monterey Bay seafood watch list for shrimp, a primary problem with seahorse and pipefish by-catch. If you keep seahorses as pet, only purchase captive bred seahorses, and avoid tank-raised, where the young are harvested from the wild.
More Conservation Groups
By Tami Weiss
| Date posted: 07/05/2014
Ocean Rider, as part of their Seahorse Hawaii Foundation efforts, announced late last year that it was going to be reintroducing seahorses back into the wild in a few locations. On the surface, this sounds like a great step towards … Continue reading
By Lindsay Aylesworth
| Date posted: 03/05/2014
My name is Lindsay and I’m a PhD candidate and researcher with Project Seahorse. I study seahorses in their natural habitat to understand threats to seahorses and ultimately aid in conservation efforts. I’m currently working in Thailand and wanted to … Continue reading
By Tami Weiss
| Date posted: 11/12/2011
The the second Syngnathid Symposium was held the first week in November in Chicago at the Shedd aquarium. 92 delegates from all over the world gathered to discuss current issues with seahorses, sea dragons, pipefish and other syngnathids. Topics discussed … Continue reading
By Mick Burrows
| Date posted: 05/05/2010
Living amongst the many and varied creatures in the temperate coastal waters of southern Australia; are in essence, the a relatively little known, but immensely fascinating sea dragons. These marine fish of the Syngnathidae family, are closely related to sea … Continue reading
By Tami Weiss
| Date posted: 05/21/2009
Seahorses are some of the most enchanting and mysterious creatures in the ocean. They are also in trouble, struggling to survive in threatened habitats around the world, while large-scale trading of seahorses for the traditional Chinese medicine market goes unchecked. … Continue reading
By Choo Chee Kuang
| Date posted: 04/25/2008
Sungai Pulai is a very special estuarine ecosystem that should merit the status of a
national heritage. The intertidal seagrass bed at the Pulai river mouth is the largest known contiguous meadow in the whole country – home to seahorse, dugong and other rare species, and also a fisheries powerhouse. It is something we, as Malaysian, cannot afford to lose.
| Date posted: 02/20/2005
Conservation and research groups around the world that study and try to protect fishes of the order Syngathiformes. Continue reading
By Carlos Restrepo
| Date posted: 01/01/2004
Seahorses are threatened throughout their range as a result of habitat loss and over-fishing. They are exploited for traditional Asian medicine markets, the pet trade, and for food. Continue reading