​Endangered Spiny Seahorses Re-colonise Inside A British Bay During Lockdown

The waters of a popular British beach are now seeing endangered seahorses reappearing. They seem to be coming back to the area because of a “lack of boats, anchors, noise and people,” according to The Seahorse Trust.

A Facebook statement was released by the organization, revealing how the endangered Spiny Seahorse is now re-colonizing at Studland Bay in Dorset, thanks to the new conditions.

The seahorses were recently discovered while a survey dive was being completed by the trust. 16 seahorses were found on one dive, including pregnant males and a juvenile that was born this year. They have not found that many seahorses in a single dive at the site since monitoring started in 2008 by The Seahorse Trust.

Photo: Pixabay

“Covid 19 and the lockdown has kept people and, importantly boats off the site during 2020, and so nature has moved back, free to move around and breed; undisturbed by loud, intense noise and anchors digging up their habitat,” The Seahorse Trust said.

“Despite not seeing seahorses for over 2 years; 2 weeks ago, the seahorses were discovered and on subsequent dives, despite only 1 metre of visibility, they found more,” they continued.

The founder and Executive Director of the Seahorse Trust, Neil Garrick-Maidment FBNA said:

“The ecology of the site has made a remarkable recovery.

We have seen so many seahorses because the food chain has recovered, giving seahorses plenty of food to eat, and crucially, somewhere to hide. The seagrass has started to repair itself, and the Spiny Seahorses have taken advantage of this.”

The Spiny and Short Snouted are native Seahorse species that are protected, thanks to six years of data submitted to authorities by Garrick-Maidment.

They are wondering how things will be moving forward, and Garrick-Maidment said: “We do not want boats and divers banned, but the seahorses and the seagrass need their legal protection enforced.”

Photo: Pixabay

“This is an amazing discovery, but we now need MMO and Natural England to enforce the WCA and the MCZ and put in measures such as Environmentally friendly moorings. The seahorses need protection to stop them from being illegally disturbed again and to stop them from vanishing from the legally protected site,” he continued.

People are also being reminded by The Seahorse Trust that you need a license from MMO in order to legally look for seahorses. That is especially important in Studland Bay and other areas in the Marine conservation zone.

“The seahorses are protected and so is Studland Bay and so please respect this and the law,” the Trust said on Facebook.

“It is incredible news that seahorses have returned to the site and it is because there have been no people and no boats, and the last thing we want is for them to be disturbed and go again.”

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