Every diver has a favourite critter or ocean giant they like to find during their travels and dives. Sharks, nudibranchs, whales and dolphins are often listed as popular but what about seahorses? These unusual and delicate creatures are found around the world and new species continue to be discovered. New Zealand is home to one species of seahorse, the Large-Bellied seahorse and, as its name suggests, it is the largest species of seahorse – growing up to 35cm in length. It lives up to a depth of approximately 100m and as shallow as 10metres and, like other species, is under threat from pollution of habitats and exploitation in commercial industries.
For those interested in learning more about seahorses, The Seahorse Trust website is a great resource.
The Seahorse Trust was set up in 1999 as an umbrella organisation to preserve and conserve the natural world, using seahorses as their flagship species. The Trust works in partnership with many organisations and people from all over the world, including the Natural History Museum in London.
‘Seahorses are a very unique fish species that occupy the coastal areas of most of the world and it is these very areas that are most under threat. Being vulnerable to human and natural interference they suffer badly and by working together we can make a difference to their future and the future of these fragile eco-systems. Although we are a small charity we make a difference in many ways in education, conservation and lobbying for protected areas to have marine and terrestrial species protected.’
The website has an abundance of facts about seahorses, conservation information and a Divers Page where seahorse sightings from around the world can be reported. Divers are encouraged to submit their sightings to the trust from any location and to follow diving protocols found on the Divers Page.
At present they are writing a definitive seahorse survey course which it is hoped will become standard for divers everywhere and will be taught throughout the world. This course will increase understanding of seahorses around the world and will lead to better protection and conservation of the species.
The Seahorse Trust produces a colourful and engaging newsletter with interesting articles, news in brief and facts for adults and children to enjoy. The current issue and archives can be found here.
If you’re looking for a unique gift for a diver or seahorse fan, the trust also offers seahorse adoption and membership packages. Details can be found here.