Seahorse Frequently Asked Questions / Are sea horses in jeopardy of going extinct?

This is a tough question to answer. One species of seahorse, the Cape or Knysna Seahorse Hippocampus capensis, is listed as endangered because they live in a very limited range in a few estuaries in South Africa, and those estuaries are in danger from overfishing and human development.

The Thorny Seahorse, Hippocampus histrix is considered threatened, and the Dwarf Seahorse, Hippocampus zosterae is undergoing consideration in the US to be listed as endangered.

The rest of the seahorse family is considered data deficient i.e. we just don’t know how close to extinction they may or may not be. Some argue that with global warming, overfishing, accidental bycatch and habitat destruction that seahorses will be extinct soon. One estimate claims seahorses will be extinct in 10 years. However most studies do not back up these findings, and instead advise caution because various species and local populations may be overfished.

On the other hand, some advocates argue that seahorses are not nearly as threatened as we may believe. They are a cryptic species, blending into their surroundings, so unless someone is actively looking for seahorses, they are easily missed. They are often missed by people who are looking for them. In fact several new species have been described in the last 10 years just because no one was looking for them before.

Either way, like all fish in the ocean, they face various man made threats, and need to be watched closely to ensure they are not pushed to extinction.

Posted in: Conservation