Welcome to the Seahorse Hotel: Saving White’s Seahorses

Connor Curow, Staff Writer

Welcome, White’s seahorses! Sick of humans ruining your home and destroying your habitat? Book a stay at the new, 5-star Seahorse Hotel. We know you’ll love it here. 

Human activity is causing hundreds of thousands of organisms to face extinction due to pollution, habitat loss, and warming oceans. As researchers and conservationists work to preserve our earth, many animals are endangered or are on the brink of extinction. Hoping to save the endangered White’s seahorses, many institutions based in Australia like the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and the University of Technology Sydney began building “seahorse hotels” in 2019. After observing seahorses in their natural habitat, researchers saw that the White’s seahorses often cluster around abandoned crab traps or shark nets. This inspired them to build a “hotel” designed like a crab trap with chicken wire to bring in and protect seahorses. 

Over the last decade, the White’s seahorse population around Australia has fallen over 90% and continues to decrease due to pollution, boat’s anchors, and farmers harvesting them for traditional medicine. The goal of this project is to monitor breeding seahorses and raise the babies in this hotel to increase the population and hopefully remove them from the endangered species list. Ultimately, researchers will release them into the harbor once they are strong enough. 

The success of these hotels inspired other countries like the United States, Indonesia, Greece, and Gibraltar to follow their lead and create additional seahorse hotels. 

Although this idea might seem like a perfect way to prevent the extinction of White’s seahorses, there is some concern surrounding this idea. After being in captivity for so long, will the seahorses be able to survive, find their own food, and evade predators? Long-term effects on the seahorses are uncertain. However, according to Smithsonian Magazine, the Sydney Aquarium is looking forward to releasing juvenile seahorses into the wild as early as April or May 2020 and “researchers will tag the creatures with three neon spots injected under their skin that will allow long-term monitoring.”

The “seahorse hotels” are a remarkable leap forward in efforts to protect animals from being endangered by attracting (and keeping) many hotel guests who are healthy and happily reproducing, thereby saving their species from extinction.

 

To learn more check out this article.