What can YOU do to help protect seahorses and the marine environment?
Since you must certainly have fallen in love with seahorses by now, I’m sure you want to know how you can help keep them safe. The good news is that each and every one of you has a role to play as a vital ally in seahorse conservation, whatever your nationality, career or circumstance.
The single most useful thing you can do for seahorses is avoid buying fish, invertebrates or all other marine products that come from bottom trawling… which drags up most seahorses. Ask your restaurant, grocery store and fish supplier about the source of their seafood. If they can’t answer, go elsewhere. Do not buy surimi, which is mashed-then-compressed bits of marine life, often obtained from the bycatch in the bottom of trawl nets. Become an informed consumer, and an insistent one. You will eat better with a clean conscience.
Beyond eating wisely, insist that your government is meeting its global obligations to set aside 10% of the ocean as protected areas. Ask your representatives what they are doing to help secure meaningful protection, not just lines on maps. Emphasize the need for such areas to encompass the seahorses’ shallow water seagrass, mangrove, coral, estuarine, and lagoon habitats. And tie your vote to action for the ocean.
If you are able to engage directly, then please volunteer your time with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in ocean conservation and with citizen science initiatives. NGOs need people with skills in management, information technology, communications, law, languages, marketing, science, sociology and so much more. Citizen science ventures such as Association Peau-Bleue and iSeahorse.org need your seahorse sightings and monitoring. We all value your eagle eye, patient probing, careful record keeping, and great photos and videos.
We urge you to be a respectful diver or aquarist. Ensure your diving is careful and does not damage natural habitats, and neither touch nor bother wild seahorses. Know that most live seahorses in trade come direct from the wild and avoid buying them. Visit a reputable public aquarium instead, and urge them to display conservation messages... and share the same messages with your friends in person (perhaps over a trawl-free dinner) or on social media.
Finally, if you might be able to help with a donation for seahorse conservation, we’d love to talk.
I’m filled with #OceanOptimism, partly because the number of people who care enough to act for seahorses and their ocean communities just keeps growing. So please join us, with our grateful thanks.
Director, Project Seahorse