Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Endangered Seahorses

This 1955 lighter recently sold for $65 US
When I was a child, my aunt had a cigarette lighter with a seahorse inside. The seahorse was alive until the guy who thought a dead seahorse in a lighter was a good idea and plucked it out of the ocean.

The smallest seahorse is about 1/2 inch long and the largest about 8 inches long. They live mostly in tropical coastal waters but it is not known how long they live. Seahorses are monogamous and mate for life. 

Eight species of seahorse are threatened (either vulnerable or endangered). Its habitat is threatened by development and water pollution. Some other threats to the seahorse include:

  • An estimated 20 million seahorses are traded each year for Chinese medicine. (People in Asia believe seahorses have magical powers.)
  • Legal and illegal trade for ornamental purpose (dried seahorses for souvenirs)
  • Hundreds of thousands are sold for the North American aquarium trade - mostly young seahorses that die in a short period of time
  • Habitat destruction caused by development
  • Being accidentally caught up in shrimp harvesting
(Endangered Species International)

How can you make a difference? Here are some suggestions from Endangered Species International:

  • refuse to buy seahorse souvenirs and wild caught seahorses for aquariums (they can be purchased from folks who are breeding them in tanks)
  • support marine protected areas
  • reduce ocean pollution
  • promote forest conservation and reforestation along coastlines
You can also grab this badge for your website. The code is in the right hand column of my blog. More to come on the shocking facts regarding the use of seahorses in Chinese medicine in Endangered Seahorses Part 2.

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