Searching for Seahorses: Conservation efforts in Portugal to find and protect European SeahorsesLatest update September 13, 2019 Started on January 23, 2019
A quest for mapping and identifying the two Seahorse species present in Portugal.
Meet the Long-snouted seahorse!
The long-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus) is a coastal marine seahorse that lives in macroalgae, seagrass, sand and mud, sessile invertebrates, reefs and lagoons in Europe and the Mediterranean. This species is threatened by habitat loss and degradation due to pollution and destructive fishing practices and is often caught as bycatch. Lately this species has been targeted for the Traditional Chinese Medicine market in the Ria Formosa, south Portugal. There is a lack information regarding the abundance of this species in their geographical distribution and, as the other co-occurring species (H. hippocampus), H. guttulatus is listed as Data Deficient in the IUCN Red List.
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Meet the Short-snouted seahorse!
The Short-Snouted seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus) is a coastal marine seahorse that inhabits mud, sand, rubble and other habitats in the Northeast Atlantic. It occurs from the UK and the Netherlands to Senegal, including the Mediterranean Sea and coastal waters of the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands. Between 2001 and 2008 there was evidence for a large (73%) decrease in population size in the Ria Formosa, Portugal. The lack of reliable survey data in many parts of this species' range has led to a classification of "Data Deficient" in the IUCN Red List Assessment. We hope to contribute to the update in the vulnerability status of this species by providing much needed data!
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Did you know that seagrass meadows are the main habitat for European seahorses? Unfortunately, these meadows have been subjected to several negative impacts that are responsible for local extirpation. It is very important to map seahorse habitats to have proper conservation plans implemented. The Trident OpenROV will be an essential tool to make this happen!
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We are currently preparing the list of potential candidates to join our project. There are many schools that are already interested and willing to engage! Each collaborator will set a long-term monitoring program that will help to expand the knowledge of the seahorse populations in Portugal, as well as habitat use. This information will allow to set proper management plans to protect these very charismatic and unusual fishes.
Looking forward to take advantage of the OpenROV Trident capabilities to add more information on seahorse habitat!
Following great interest in the Seahorse Homeland expedition, also present here at Open Explorer, we're spreading the geographic boundaries of an initial local project into a full grown data gathering national expedition in order to be able to classify the Mediterranean Seahorse species present in the IUCN Red List, as up until now they have a status of "Data Deficient".
Added to the habitat monitoring and mapping using the filming capabilities of the OpenROV Trident underwater drone, we're attaching water quality environmental sensors in order to gather the most data possible.
We're also developing contacts with national and international schools in order to live stream our dives into classrooms and interested parties.
This is a joint expedition of citizen scientists, renowned investigators and the Portuguese associated branch of WWF - World Wildlife Fund.
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Thank You for Your Contribution!