Seahorses (Hippocampus kelloggi)

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    • Extensive fishing off the Coromandel coast could be forcing the great seahorse to migrate laboriously toward Odisha

    About

    • The 1,300 km northward migration of the great seahorse from Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar to Odisha is likely a response to extensive fishing activities around the southern coast of India. The species is abundant off the Coromandel coast (Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu) but is under extensive fishing pressure.
    • Seahorses are poor swimmers but migrate by rafting — clinging to floating substrata such as macroalgae or plastic debris for dispersal by ocean currents – to new habitats for successful maintenance of their population. 
    • But the great seahorse is not migrating in large numbers, as the Odisha coast does not have coral reefs or seagrass meadows that the species can call home, except within the Chilika region.

    Seahorses

    • About:
      • Seahorses are a type of marine fish that are named for their distinctive head and neck, which resemble those of horses. 
    • Geographical Distribution:

    Generally found in shallow tropical and temperate waters throughout the world.

    • There are 46 species of seahorses reported worldwide. The coastal ecosystems of India house nine out of 12 species found in the Indo-Pacific, one of the hotspots of seahorse populations that are distributed across diverse ecosystems such as seagrass, mangroves, macroalgal beds, and coral reefs.
    • These nine species are distributed along the coasts of eight States and five Union Territories from Gujarat to Odisha, apart from Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
    • Conservation status:
      • Twelve seahorse species are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, one step down from endangered. An additional 17 species are understudied, and listed as “data deficient.” Two are endangered.
      • Appendix II of CITES
    • Threats:
      • They are declining due to the overexploitation for traditional Chinese medicines and ornamental fish.
      • Habitat degradation by anthropogenic activities.
      • Despite the ban on fishing and trading activities on seahorses from 2001, clandestine fishing and trading still take place in India.

    Source: TH