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article imageRare, threatened seahorse spotted by divers off Halifax, N.S.

By Igor I. Solar     May 22, 2014 in Environment
Halifax - A rarely-seen seahorse was observed and recorded by divers in waters off Nova Scotia. Scientists are excited about this sighting since the species is extremely rare in Canadian waters.
Divers Nedia Coutinho and Martin Roy, owners of underwater imaging company UW Distribution, observed the lonely seahorse in the midst of seaweeds during a routine dive in St. Margaret’s Bay, near Halifax, off the coast of Nova Scotia.
This seahorse’s scientific name is Hippocampus erectus, but is commonly known as Atlantic Seahorse or Lined Seahorse. Although the northern limit of the geographical range of H. erectus includes waters of Nova Scotia, the species is usually found along the east coast of the USA, Mexico, and Venezuela. They are more often seen among sea-grasses, mangroves and sponges in the waters of the Caribbean and Central America.
This seahorse in listed as “Vulnerable” in the Red Book of the UICN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) because of habitat degradation caused by coastal development, pollution, and increased sedimentation. Additionally, seahorses are captured for the aquarium trade in North America, as by-catch in shrimp trawling operations in Florida and Mexico, and are also in high demand as traditional Chinese medicine.
The sighting of H. erectus near Halifax is highly significant. Prior to this recent observation, lined seahorses have only been seen twice in Nova Scotia waters in the past 24 years, in 1989 and in 2000. No more than 25 specimens of lined seahorses have ever been recorded off the coast of Nova Scotia.
“This is a thrilling discovery,” said Amanda Vincent, director and co-founder of Project Seahorse of the University of British Columbia, reports CTV news. “These charismatic and mysterious animals are so highly cryptic – and, in many places, so threatened – that we often have to be very lucky to find them.”
More about Lined seahorse, Hippocampus erectus, St Margarets Bay, Halifax, Nova Scotia
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