Endangered seahorses nearing extinction released back into the wild after conservation effort

Over the past 10 years, the White’s seahorse, also known as the Sydney seahorse, lost 90 percent of its population. The seahorse, which is found on Australia’s east coast lost its habitat over the last decade due to boat anchors, poor water quality, and sedimentation.

Scientists hoped a special conservation effort would help curtail their decline and increase their population. Recently, the final stage of the conservation effort was completed and “strong juveniles” were released into the wild.

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In August 2019, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, along with NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries and the University of Technology Sydney, began planning a breeding and conservation effort to help recover the Sydney seahorse population.

The project took off in October when pregnant males were collected, according to a release.

Over the course of several months, White’s seahorses were successfully bred at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium.

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During that time, seahorse “hotels” were placed into Sydney Harbour.

“Everyone loved the seahorse hotels,” David Harasti told Atlas Obscura. “It was a real, ‘If you build it, they will come’ situation.”

Harasti installed the first seahorse hotel, which was modeled after a lobster trap, in the harbour in 2018 and within six months he noticed sealife latched on and seahorses started to congregate.

“The best design for the hotels is completely enclosing them, otherwise predators come in and out,” said Harasti.

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On May 8, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium released 90 White’s seahorses into Sydney Harbour.

Over the coming months and years, scientists will continue to track the wildlife.

“We want to make sure this project is successful by seeing these babies regularly and hopefully in a couple of months we will see them breeding, which will then enhance the local populations of the White’s seahorse,” said Harasti.

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