The Environment Agency has announced the discovery of a rare seahorse. The short-nosed seahorse was discovered as workers carried out a routine survey in the Thames.
The seahorse, which is protected in the UK, was found in Greenwich, London. According to the Environment Agency, this is the first time that they have been discovered so far along in the Thames and the only time they have been seen in the Greenwich area of London, which is evidence that there could be a colony in the Thames.
The Environment Agency says that “a handful of individuals” had been sighted in the Thames before and the recent sighting may indicate that there could be more populations around the UK.
Commenting in a press release, Emma Barton, Environment Agency Fisheries Officer, said:
“The seahorse we found was only 5cm long, a juvenile, suggesting that they may be breeding nearby. This is a really good sign that seahorse populations are not only increasing, but spreading to locations where they haven’t been seen before. We routinely survey the Thames at this time of year and this is a really exciting discovery.
“We hope that further improvements to water quality and habitat in the Thames will encourage more of these rare species to take up residence in the river. “
According to the British Marine Line Study Society, this type of seahorse is very rare but they have previously been found in the Channel Islands. The website also details sightings of one in Devon in 2010 and a possible sighting in Sussex in 2009.
The seahorse is classed as an Actinopterygii or ray-finned fish and they are said to grow to a maximum of 15cm long.
The Environment Agency state that after the discovery of the rare seahorse, it was returned to the water.