Research and conservation

The Seahorse Trust is responsible for overseeing and working with a number of research projects around the world. These include surveying for seahorses, behavioural studies captive breeding and nutritional work. These projects will be sharing information with researchers and students around the world’ in this way techniques will be passed between projects and we hope that more will be know about these amazing little ‘Horses of the sea’.

Our Policy

Co-operation between our projects is very important and being dependant upon one another. We are committed to the conservation of the natural world and have a policy of sharing the knowledge we have collected to anyone who needs or wants our help.

We firmly believe this will help to break down barriers and move conservation forward more quickly.

Surveying

We still do not know exactly how many seahorses species there are in the world or their full distribution. New species are still being discovered and will probably continue to be found as divers explore further into unknown waters.

The British Seahorse Survey was set up in 1994 and is the longest running coninuous survey of its kind in the world and it would not be possible without the input of so many volunteers, the sightings form the survey are fed into the National Seahorse Database, the only one of its kind, as a result of this database we got the British Seahorses protected.

In 2008 we got both British species of Seahorse protected as named species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). This was as a direct result and hard work of the 5,000 plus volunteers we have had helping us since the start of the survey and we owe them a massive vote of thanks for all their hard work.

Another acheivement in 2010 was the banning of the use of flash photography on welfare grounds as we felt through our 30 years of experience that flash phtoography is harmful and does kill seahorses.

It is now illegal to kill, take or disturb Seahorses in British waters; as well as this the habitat where Seahorses are found is also protected which means that if you find a Seahorse in a seagrass bed that seagrass bed is protected, good news for the Seahorses and also the other species that live there.

We still need to gather more data about the British Seahorses so if you find one please let us know so that we can build up more information on their ecology and lifestyle so that we can make sure we have this amazing ‘Little horse of the sea’ around our shoes for many years to come. Please fill out the online survey form and send it to us.

We have plans to expand our survey work to cover Ireland and continental Europe. One of the reasons we believe this is necessary is that if the population levels drop significantly and reintroduction programmes are needed, it is vital that proper surveys have been carried out.

It is also vital to compoare the behaviour and distribution of the European seahorses throughout their range and with this in mind we hope to start work in Malta in 2012. See Malta Research Project to see how you can get involved.

National Seahorse Database

All the information and data we gather is put together on the National Seahorse Database which is held at the trust's headquarters and it contains pictures, maps and reports of seahorses all around the UK. This extensive archive holds in excess of 650 sightings and has allowed us to collate all the information into reports some of which are downlaodable from this site (please note they have full copyright on them). The database is growing and evolivng all the time and is a very useful tool to allow us to see how seahorses are behaving over a long period of time and to be able to submit information which will allow better protecting for seahorses and their environment

Downloads

5 Year Report on the tagging of seahorses at South Beach, Studland Bay

British Seahorse Survey Leaflet

Seahorse Tagging Project at Studland Bay

British Seahorse Survey Report 2011

British Seahorse Survey Report 2007

British Seahorse Survey Report 2004

North Sea Seahorses

Indigenous seahorses

Torbay Seahorses

Aquarium differnces on Short Snouted Seahorse Steff Lamb

Seahorses in Poole Harbour in Dorset                

Temperature and day length related seasonal movement of seahorses at South Beach in Studland Bay in Dorset.                                                                                                                                                                  

All reports and content (pictures and written) of this website produced or owned by The Seahorse Trust are the sole property and copyright  of The Seahorse Trust and cannot be used in whole or in part thereof, electronically, written or in any other form without full written permission of The Seahorse Trust. Copyright 2011

Behaviour

Seahorses are shy, elusive animals and it is difficult to know what is their behaviour in the wild. To help us understand whether the behaviour we see in captivity goes on in the wild, we will be conducting behavioral studies with partners of captive and wild species.

The results of this will enable us to:

  • Provide better conditions for seahorses in captivity
  • Help protect valuable seahorse habitats
  • Give us a better understanding of seahorses in general

Seahorse Breeding

The Seahorse Trust has bred 22 species of Seahorse successfully (more than anyone else in the world) with two world's first breeding’s with the British species; the Spiny Seahorse and the Short Snouted Seahorse.

Almost 100 million Seahorses a year are taken for the Traditional Chinese Medicine trade, the curio trade and the pet trade. All three trades are having a very negative effect on the Seahorse population in the wild to the point where they are disappearing from a number of their former ranges.

Captive breeding projects have been set up around the world (many advised by The Seahorse Trust) looking into the possibility of mass producing Seahorses to conserve them. By captive breeding on a large enough scale this will mean the need to take wild caught individuals will stop.

Although given the right conditions Seahorses will produce large numbers of fry (young), the problem then starts with keeping them alive and if this is achieved, ensuring that the growth and survival rates are correct.

Nutrition

The Seahorse Trust has over the years bred 22 species of Seahorse to a greater or lesser extent. With the Knysna Seahorse (Hippocampus capensis) we bred 15 generations with a 90% success rate to the other extreme where we have had only 2 Tiger tail (Hippocampus comes) Seahorses out of many broods. In identifying the problems in rearing Seahorses, the answer keeps coming down to nutrition, whether for the fry or the breeding adults.

We have through the course of our work developed several nutritional techniques for the rearing of seahorses but there is still an immense amount of work to do, until we achieve our aim of a minimal survival rate of 80% of every brood born.

You Tube videos

We have just added some You Tube videos to the site on the conservation and Medicine trade pages. They are also avaialble here.

Seahorses and the Chinese Medicine Trade                                      http://youtu.be/kCPYotfkYzg

Seahorse pair at Studland                                                                   http://youtu.be/hIJxVpsq944

Seahorse                                                                                             http://youtu.be/xLfyrwj1QhM

Digging up Studland                                                                           http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMm9g9ms8us

Camouflage in wild seahorses                                                             http://youtu.be/TlAiwrQEcME

Pair of Seahorses at Studland and the male is pregnant                    http://youtu.be/qE1p5PkJ3pA

Bright Yellow Seahorse                                                                       http://youtu.be/if9l1EnaZfM

Seahorse Dragon at China Town in Manchester                                 http://youtu.be/WXCC23z56mg