Seahorses are fascinating fish, often considered a favorite sea creature by children and adults alike. The more you learn about seahorses, the more intriguing they become! Not only are they unusual looking, they have so many interesting behaviors and life strategies that make them one of a kind. From the “dads” having the babies, to the daily romantic courtship that seahorse parents perform for each other, these animals deserve our attention and protection. Luckily the State of New York has taken a progressive stance, passing legislation protecting seahorses from being collected from the wild, but these animals are not out of the woods yet. The primary concern for seahorses in New York is that they have very limited habitat left. Our native species of seahorse, the “northern lined seahorse”, Hippocampus erectus, is dependent on our native species of seagrass known as “eelgrass” Zostera marina, which has drastically declined over the last century.
Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Habitat Restoration Program has been working to protect and restore eelgrass for over 30 years. This makes the lined seahorse the perfect ambassador for the work that we do, because protecting seahorses and eelgrass goes hand-in-hand. We are now launching a new Seahorse Conservation Initiative which includes conducting much needed research about our local seahorse populations, educating citizens young and old about this treasured species and involving citizens in our conservation efforts through citizen science opportunities. Through this initiative, people will have a chance to play an important role in understanding and protecting seahorses by conducting seining surveys, reporting sightings through snorkeling or SCUBA encounters, and helping to increase habitat for them through eelgrass restoration workshops and helping to install “Seahorse Hotels” made out of repurposed fishing gear.
To learn more about seahorses and their unique traits, you can visit our sister website Seagrassli.org. For information on the Seahorse Conservation Initiative, please contact Kimberly Manzo.
Last updated December 3, 2018