White's seahorse: one of two Endangered seahorse species
By Ebba Hooft-Toomey
We took a little break from posting featured iSeahorse observations, but we are back at it again! To kick things off we are featuring this gorgeous White’s seahorse (Hippocampus whitei) photographed by user Peter “fiftygrit” in New South Wales, Australia. White’s seahorse was recently listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, one of two seahorse species listed as Endangered. The biggest threat to its populations is habitat loss. It is thought to be endemic to the Southwest Pacific and it lives in shallow, inshore habitats, both natural and anthropogenic.
Another interesting fact is that Prof. Amanda Vincent, our director and co-founder, began her career by observing White’s seahorses underwater in Australia in 1986. In fact, she was the first scientist to study seahorses underwater. Fast forward a few decades and Amanda’s career is one of the most acclaimed in marine conservation. In May 2020 she became the first marine conservationist to win the world’s top animal conservation award - the prestigious Indianapolis prize.
The prize acknowledges Amanda’s hard work and major conservation achievements. Amanda dedicated her career to understanding and advocating for seahorses, which serve as flagship species for a wide range of marine conservation issues. She and her Project Seahorse team are now focused on bringing an end to harmful fishing practices such as bottom trawling, where industrial nets are dragged across the ocean floor, catching everything in their paths and destroying vital habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds in the process. Bottom trawling is the single biggest threat to seahorses.
The story of Amanda and seahorses, a story that began with the shy H. whitei of Australia, is an exciting and uplifting example of how cutting-edge research can be turned into effective conservation actions.
For more information on Hippocamus whitei see:
IUCN Red List https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/10088/46721312