Save the Sea Horses

With its spiky, curled tail and tiny horse-like head, the sea horse has enchanted people for thousands of years. Fishermen in ancient Rome believed that Neptune, the god of the ocean, charged through the water in a horse-drawn chariot. Sea horses, they figured, must be the babies of Neptune's horses!

Of course, now we know that sea horses are not horses at all--they are a kind of fish. The long-snouted creatures still seem as magical as ever, especially to divers who have watched them horsing around in the sea. But today, sea horse populations face an uncertain future. Fishermen are catching too many of them, and their undersea habitats are being destroyed. If nothing is done to help them, they might soon face extinction. This would be a terrible result and must be avoided at all costs. Recently experts from 13 countries met at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois, to share ideas about how to save these graceful creatures.


There are many ways that people are trying to save the sea horses and other sea life today, and one of the most important is by teaching our children. There are programs offered to children where they can see the animals in their habitats and learn about the importance of saving the oceans and its life forms. Learning about the sea horse can help to raise awareness about them and create a better understanding of the importance of the oceans and all of its amazing creatures.



Sea Horses For Sale
At least 20 million sea horses are taken from the ocean each year. More than 95% are used for traditional medicines in Asian countries. The sea horses are usually dried and ground up into a powder used to treat such problems as asthma, throat infections, skin diseases and cuts. How well the medicines work is unclear.

Sea horses are also bought and sold in large numbers as pets for home aquariums. Sea horse expert Amanda Vincent warns against buying pet sea horses. "A lot of people treat them as if they're goldfish," she says. But sea horses require very special care and live food. Most captive sea horses pick up diseases and die.

Sea horse experts are trying to teach fishermen to become sea horse farmers. Instead of pulling nets of sea horses from the ocean, fishermen could learn to raise them in specially designed saltwater "farms." That way, fishermen would have sea horses to sell, but ocean populations would not be hurt.

     

Sea Horse Facts:

  • Sea horses and their relatives are fish, but they don't have scales. They have bony plates under their skin, like a suit of armor.
  • Sea horses can be very tiny. Some are shorter than the length of the fingernail on your pinkie!
  • Sea horse males, not females, are the ones that give birth. Some males give birth to 1,500 babies at one time! During pregnancy, a pair of sea horses will "dance" together every day after dawn.
  • Sea horses can change colors to camouflage themselves and hide from enemies. They can also grow hairlike bits of skin to blend in with leafy surroundings.