British Seahorse Survey

The more we know the better we can protect them

British Seahorse Survey

The British Seahorse Survey (BSS) was set up in 1994 by The Seahorse trust founder Neil Garrick-Maidment and is the longest running continuous survey of its kind in the world and it would not be possible without the input of so many volunteers.

The sightings from the survey are fed into the World Seahorse Database (WSD), the only one of its kind in the UK and, as a result of this survey, we achieved  full protection for both British seahorse species..

In 2008, both British seahorses were protected as named species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981 as amended) as a direct result of our survey work and the WSD. This was as a result and the hard work of, the 5,000+ volunteers who have helped us since the start of the survey. We owe them a massive vote of thanks for all their hard work.

Another achievement was the banning, in 2010 of the use of flash photography on welfare grounds. After 47 years of experience, we knew flash photography is harmful and can kill seahorses.

It is now illegal to kill, take or disturb seahorses in British waters.  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. This is good news for the seahorses and other species that live there.

Due to our knowledge of British seahorses, we have advised many governments, including the British government, through its departments such as Natural England, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Department For Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), amongst others. We also helped to shape the seahorse licence that is required from MMO to set up seahorse surveys in our waters.

We still need to gather more data about British seahorses, so if you find one, please let us know so that we can build more information on their ecology and behaviour. This is to make sure we have this amazing ‘little horse of the sea’ around our shores for many years to come.

Please fill out the online survey form below or e-mail us at British Seahorse Survey so we can make your sighting count. If you have any pictures please email us.