A mysterious and charismatic species under threat
Every year, millions of seahorses are caught and traded, dead and alive, all over the world. They are displayed in aquariums, used as ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine, and turned into curios.
According to the IUCN Red List, 12 species are Vulnerable, and two are Endangered, but 17 other species are listed as Data Deficient. This means we do not know enough about them to assess their conservation status.
Based on our research, we know that seahorses are vulnerable to overfishing and habitat damage. However, seahorses are difficult to study in the wild because of their ability to blend, chameleon-like, into their surroundings, and their near-global geographical range.
The case for seahorse conservation
Seahorses are flagship species, charismatic symbols of the seagrasses, mangroves, coral reefs, estuaries and seaweeds where they make their homes.
Seahorses need to be protected for ecological, biological, economic, and medical reasons. They are important predators on bottom-dwelling organisms; removing them may disrupt ecosystems.
Only the male becomes pregnant and many seahorse species are mates for life. Their unusual life history provides us with an opportunity to expand our understanding of reproductive ecology.
Find out how you can help protect seahorses.