Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nation's Smallest Seahorse

The Dwarf Seahorse is exclusively found in the Bahamas and the gulf regions of the US. Its natural habitat is subtidal aquatic beds, and is primarily endangered due to habitat loss. These tiny seahorses were initially experiencing a population decrease due to overcollection for aquariums. The Dwarf Seahorse population began to drastically decline after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The oil caused the decline of seagrass which let to a decline in the seahorse population. Its population was on the decline before the BP oil spill due to oil pollution and dispersants used to break up oil. Both these are toxic to seahorses and seagrass, their habitat.

Florida has lost more than 50% of its seagrass since 1950. Substantial loss has also been seen in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and the Bahamas. In addition to declining seagrass population, the seahorses are threated by poor water quality, damage from boat propellers, shrimp trawlers and global climate change.

Seahorses are very unique creatures because it is the males that carry the eggs. Researchers express concerns that chemical dispersants may have adverse effects on reproduction cycles due to the disruption of hormones. The solution most experts believe is to stop using seagrass beds as buffer zones and start protecting them.

1 comment:

  1. Future coastal development is likely to be the biggest longterm factor in the survival of this species. So far it appears that the oil spill effects may be greatest in deep water, though only time will tell. But who doesn't like sea horses?- perhaps this is a charismatic species that can be used to mobilize efforts!