Saving Britain’s Seahorse: Let’s make diving with seahorses possible in the future
Will you fight for the chance of a dive with a Seahorse in Britain’s waters?
The seahorses of Studland bay are under severe threat.
Their numbers have decimated to single figures in the past few years.
From 40 in the second half of 2008, down to 1 recorded sighting as of October 2014.
Neil Garrick-Maidment, Executive Director of The Seahorse Trust is fighting to save this remarkable species.
His war is with the yacht owners and boaters who moor close to the shore in the seagrass meadow.
The chains of the moorings and anchors circulate and drag through the seagrass, this destroys the seahorse habitat and their fragile breeding grounds in the seagrass.
A seahorse vs. Yacht Owners
In coming up against the yacht owners, Neil receives numerous amounts of hate mail and even death threats on a regular basis.
In one remarkable situation, somebody actually tried to run him and his research team over in their boat.
Read more about iSeahorse: Saving Seahorses Together
The area itself is supposed to be protected due to the seahorses, and the fact that it is an undulate ray nursery and home to a wide variety of protected species such as truncated anemones and English oysters.
But due to poor control and the lack of enforcement, the protection has become non-existent.
Did you know Seahorses has ‘fingerprint’ style patterns
Neil is the only person who has full licensed permission to work scientifically in the area.
He tirelessly endeavours to record the destruction whilst studying the seahorse population.
He has tagged many of the population with tiny numbered collars, and in the last 2 years has pioneered a system of photo identification, which means he can identify individual seahorses through ‘fingerprint’ style patterns of spots on their skin.
See the effects on the Seahorses:
Let’s make Studland Bay a Marine conservation zones
The film coincides with an effort to push for Studland Bay to be included in the next wave of MCZ's (Marine conservation zones), In 2014 it was again included as a proposed Marine Conservation Zone.
Neil is showing the decline in numbers of animals during his period of study on the site.
If the site is included in the next tranche of MCZ’s, then there will have to be a management plan put into place to protect the site.
Do you know how a scuba diver can Make a positive difference for the environment?
What’s the problem for the Seahorses?
The immediate problem is simple, traditional yacht moorings and anchoring is destroying their habitat.
The chains on the moorings and the anchors tear up the sea bed, the damage can even be seen from a plane.
The solution is incredibly straight forward. Environmentally friendly boat moorings (EFM’s) can be installed at a relatively cheap cost, yet there is still opposition to the project. These EFM’s have strong elastic supports which have zero impact on the environment.
Most yachters and boaters don't want to change their traditional ways, and the government won't invest and enforce the use of environmentally friendly moorings. Unless they do, we will lose this remarkable species from Studland bay forever.
IS THERE HOPE FOR THE SEAHORSES?
Although it is not too late! Neil and his team of volunteers will keep campaigning to have the site protected and to get the seahorses the legal protection they need.
The Seahorse Trust relies on public funding and charitable donations to continue their work.
They are also looking to raise funds for the potential installation of Environmentally friendly moorings in order to conduct a trial, to see if they will solve this huge problem.