A snapshot of what we've been up to in the last few months
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Project Seahorse News Oct 2019

Renewed hope for well-regulated seahorse trade

Seahorses caught as bycatch in Handumon, Philippines. Photo by Myrtle Arias/ZSL Philippines.

Yay, we did it again!  We had a great breakthrough recently where we prodded 182 countries to shift into higher gear in their commitment to ensure that exports of seahorses are legal and not detrimental to their wild populations.

Way back in 2002 there was finally recognition by the international community that fish are wildlife too and seahorses were the first marine fishes to be listed on
CITES* Appendix II. This ground-breaking listing meant that the international exports of seahorses had to be sustainable, legal and monitored. But… for this listing to be effective in addressing the threats seahorses face (from destructive fisheries and trade around the world) it needs to be more than a paper promise – it has to be implemented.  Moving from listing to implementation is not automatic and it has been challenging - but now there is renewed hope. Happily, in late August at the big CITES meeting, the 183 Parties committed to take decisive, collective action for seahorses – from improving the sustainability of the legal trade to addressing the large volume of illegal trade

Read more about this exciting news in this two-part blog by Dr. Sarah Foster (Global Trade Officer for the IUCN SSC Seahorse, Pipefish and Seadragon Specialist Group and Research Associate with Project Seahorse).

*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

Happily leading on marine species conservation

Our director, Prof. Amanda Vincent, has been Chair of the renewed IUCN Species Survival Commission's Marine Conservation Committee (MCC) for just over a year and has been guiding myriad important new initiatives. To name a few, the MCC:
  • Consulted each marine taxonomic Specialist Group and thematic SG (individually) in renewing the MCC
  • Hosted marine Special Group discussions on conservation planning, climate change and funding
  • Submitted and catalysed Motions for the IUCN Congress coming up in 2020 on a variety of topics ranging from aquascapes, bycatch, marine ecosystem restoration, marine fisheries, to deep sea conservation, and MPAs.
  • Provided input to the IUCN on Biodiversity Targets post-2020
Check out the new MCC website to learn more.

Effects of marine reserves on invertebrates

Every now and then people mistakenly think that seahorses are invertebrates (animals without a backbone).  That error drew our attention on these poorly studied animals in one of the most biodiverse areas of the world. We were particularly interested in how they responded to marine protected areas (MPAs).  Kyle Gillespie, our PhD student, spent many nights diving in the coral reefs of Central Philippines surveying invertebrates, like nudibranchs, shrimp and brittle stars, as they came out to feed/mate/play.  We found that the way they use their habitat, the way they move and even the way they look differed between the marine reserve and non-reserve areas. Invertebrates are fascinating creatures and deserve more attention (even if they are not seahorses…).

Learn more

Leaping from setting conservation priorities to tackling the biggest of all…

Congratulations to Dr. Xiong Zhang! He obtained his PhD earlier this year with an excellent thesis on Conservation prioritization and ecology of data-poor marine species under human pressures, under the supervision of our director, Prof Amanda Vincent.

Xiong is now tackling the scourge of bottom trawling.  He is completing a huge review on China’s history and experience with this destructive and non-selective fishing method, drawing on both English and Chinese language materials. Xiong also plans to visit fisheries experts, policy makers, NGOs, and law-enforcers in China to probe the development and effectiveness of fisheries policies relevant to bottom trawling. Our trawling project will support countries such as China and India to enhance constraints on bottom trawling, a major threat to thousands of marine species including seahorses and sharks.

Watch this space for more exciting developments.

Welcome Adam and Roshni

Two new Masters students have join our team - Adam Hicks and Roshni Mangar. Adam hails from the UK and will investigate seahorse trade in Cambodia, a missing link in our knowledge of Southeast Asia.  Roshni comes from Mauritius and will be probing the socioeconomic background of people involved in India’s bottom trawl fisheries.  Welcome to the team Adam and Roshni!
5200+ observations on iSeahorse!

Happy news!!  We continue to grow from strength to strength and we have now exceeded 5200 seahorse observations on - our pioneering citizen science website and smartphone app that allows anyone to contribute to the science and conservation of seahorses.    

Go to the iSeahorse
Featured iSeahorse observations

Every month we feature an unusual / interesting / fun iSeahorse observation on our blog. The latest featured observation - of seagulls and seahorses - highlights predation of seahorses. For more on seahorse predation see this paper.

You can view more featured observations here.
Annual Report - 2018

Find out what we did in 2018 to save seahorses and their habitats - from marine protected areas, trawl management, trade policy, citizen science and so much more. 

Read the report here
Our latest publications

Foster, S.J., Kuo,T-C., Wan, A.K.Y. & A.C.J. Vincent. 2019. Global seahorse trade defies export bans under CITES action and national legislation. Marine Policy 103: 33-41.

Gillespie, K.M. &  A.C.J. Vincent. 2019. Marine reserves drive both taxonomic and functional change in coral reef invertebrate communities. Biodiversity and Conservation 28(4)"921-938.

Gillespie, K.M. & A.C.J. Vincent. 2019. Tropical invertebrate response to marine reserves varies with protection duration, habitat type, and exploitation history. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 29(3):511-520.

Manning, C.G., Foster, S.J. & A.C.J. Vincent. 2019. A review of the diets and feeding behaviours of a family of biologically diverse marine fishes (Family Syngnathidae). Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 29(2):751-759.

Palma, J., Magalhães, M., Correia, M. & J.P. Andrade. 2019. Effects of anthropogenic noise as a source of acoustic stress in wild populations of Hippocampus guttulatus in the Ria Formosa, south Portugal. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 29(5):751-759.

Stocks, A.P., Foster, S.J., Bat, N.K., Ha, N.M., & A.C.J. Vincent. 2019. Local fishers’ knowledge of target and incidental seahorse catch in southern Vietnam. Human Ecology 47(3):397-408.

Zhang, X. & A.C.J. Vincent. 2019. Conservation prioritization for seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) at broad spatial scales considering socioeconomic costs. Biological Conservation 235:79-88.

Zhang, X. & A.C.J. Vincent. 2019. Using cumulative‐human‐impact models to reveal global threat patterns for seahorses. Conservation Biology.

More publications

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