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Rescued seahorse set for release back into the wild

July 3, 2013

A seahorse which was accidentally caught up in the nets of a Portsmouth fishermen is set to be released back into the wild.

The native Short Snouted Seahorse, which is found in isolated locations along the south coast and all around the British Isles up into the North Sea, was donated to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth after being discovered by a local fisherman.

Realising the rarity of his discovery he contacted the aquarium and asked if they could look after it. Blue Reef Aquarium’s Lindsay Holloway said: “The fisherman did exactly the right thing in contacting us.

“If he has simply thrown the seahorse back over the side there would have been a strong likelihood that it would either have been eaten by a larger predator or end up somewhere miles from its natural habitat.

“Seahorses are not good swimmers and do not tend to travel great distances. They need a very specific habitat to survive so just putting them back into the sea at a random spot really wouldn’t have been a good idea,” he added.

The Blue Reef Aquarium is now working with Neil Garrick-Maidment from The Seahorse Trust to find a suitable location to release the seahorse.

There are two species of seahorse found around the British coast; the Spiny Seahorse and the Short Snouted Seahorse.

“The plan is for the seahorse to remain here for a short period of time to make sure it is in good health before being transferred back to the wild to a secret location by volunteer Jenny Mallinson who is licensed by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to handle seahorses.

“Neil, Jenny and the team have a special licence which allows them to release rescued seahorses into the sea. Hopefully this individual will go on to survive, prosper and one day produce young of its own,” added Lindsay.

The sighting and all the information about this little male seahorse will be added to the National Seahorse Database which was set up by The Seahorse Trust in 1994.

It is the longest running survey of its kind and has led to a greater understanding of seahorses in the wild and meant that in 2008 they became fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside act at the same level as dormice, great crested newts and otters.

The Seahorse Trust was set up in 1999 as an umbrella organisation to preserve and conserve the natural world, especially the marine environment using seahorses as their flagship species. It works in partnership with many organisations and people from all over the world.