Bargibant's SeahorseA Bargibant's seahorse (H. bargibanti) spotted in Komodo, Indonesia. Photo by Guido Borgenon/Guylian Seahorses of the World
By-catchA seahorse is caught as by-catch. Photo by S. Foster/Project Seahorse
Pregnant Male SeahorseA pregnant male short-snouted seahorse spotted in the Puerta Galera, Philippines. Photo by Luc Rooman/Guylian Seahorses of the World
Tiger Tail SeahorseA tiger tail seahorse (H. comes) spotted in Gato Island, Philippines. Photo by Ronny De Pesseroy/Guylian Seahorses of the World
Denise's Pygmy SeahorseA Denise's pygmy seahorse (H. denise) spotted in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Photo by Rob de Vries/Guylian Seahorses of the World
Slender SeahorseA slender seahorse (H. reidi) spotted in Honduras. Photo by Ernst Seeling/Guylian Seahorses of the World
Weedy Pygmy SeahorseA weedy pygmy seahorse (H. pontohi) spotted in Bunaken, Indonesia. Photo by Patrick Decaluwé/Guylian Seahorses of the World
Thorny SeahorseA thorny seahorse spotted in Lembeh, Indonesia. Photo by Rudi Rombouts/Guylian Seahorses of the World
Denise's Pygmy SeahorseA Denise's pygmy seahorse (H. denise) spotted in Bali. Photo by Jan Azier/Guylian Seahorses of the World
iSeahorse: saving seahorses through citizen science
Have you ever spotted a seahorse during one of your dives?
Then you’ve experienced the exhilaration these incredible animals can bring you, just by being in their presence. Seahorses are such intriguing and charismatic creatures. Yes, they are fish, but they sure don’t look like it.
They are masters of camouflage and are biologically unique given that the males give birth. The more you learn about seahorses, the more fascinating they become.
As a diver, you probably also know that seahorses are challenging to find. Unfortunately, their remarkable camouflaging capabilities and their vast geographical range make it difficult for scientists to study them in the wil
Why do we need to study seahorses?
Seahorses are threatened by overfishing and habitat destruction, as they mainly inhabit shallow, coastal waters that are highly influenced by human activity. Additionally, millions of seahorses are caught and traded globally each year for use in aquarium displays, traditional Chinese medicine, and curios.
To date, 11 seahorse species are listed as threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, while 26 species are listed as ‘Data Deficient’, meaning we don’t even know enough about them to assess their conservation status. Moreover, some species haven’t even been assessed yet.
If we want to protect and preserve the world’s seahorses, we desperately need more data. With only a handful of scientists studying seahorses in the wild, this is a real challenge. This is where you and iSeahorse come in.
iSeahorse: become a seahorse citizen scientist today
iSeahorse is a project initiated by Project Seahorse, a marine conservation group dedicated to the conservation and sustainable use of the world’s coastal marine ecosystems. It is a tool that harnesses the power of ‘citizen science’ to expand our understanding of seahorses so we can better protect them. Basically anyone, anywhere in the world can contribute to seahorse science and conservation. Whether you’re an amateur or an expert, or somewhere in between, if you’ve seen a seahorse in the wild, you can help make a difference.
If you spot a seahorse during one of your dives, snap a photo if possible, and report your sighting on http://iSeahorse.org or through the iSeahorse smartphone app. All you have to do is register for an account, add your observation data and photos, and submit it. Once uploaded, your observations become part of a growing global database that is accessible to scientists and conservationists around the world.
In case you can’t identify the seahorse species you saw, there are some great free ID guides available on the website to help you. Other users and seahorse experts are also able to view your observation and can support you with your species identification.
iSeahorse isn’t only a database, it’s a community of citizen scientists, conservationists, experts and more, all working towards a common goal: to expand our knowledge and protect seahorses, and the marine ecosystems they call home.
Spread the word and make a difference!
Want to become more involved?
If you dive regularly in areas where there are seahorses, you could become an underwater population trends monitor for Project Seahorse. As a population trends monitor, you’ll be helping experts learn where wild populations are, what threats they face, and whether they are growing or shrinking.
Project Seahorse also created a PADI Seahorse Distinctive Specialty. Interested divers can contact Lindsay Aylesworth (email@example.com) for more information.
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