To mark World Ocean's Day, 18 new Seahorse Hotels have been placed underwater in Sydney Harbour to provide vital housing for SEA LIFE Sydney's next colony of baby endangered White’s Seahorses, which are due to be released later this year.
Seahorse Hotels start as artificial habitats that grow into natural habitats once they are placed in the marine environment. Over time, the corals, sponges, algae, and encrusting animals that colonise these structures provide protection from predators and a ready supply of food, making them the perfect home for seahorses. Seahorse Hotels are designed to be completely biodegradable, so the artificial structures will slowly collapse over time under the weight of the marine growth, leaving a new natural habitat behind.
“We’re now in year two of a multi-year project that aims to recover and eventually de-list the currently Endangered White’s Seahorses. I’m extremely proud that this project, which provides habitat for seahorses, has maintained such strong momentum through its many vital stages. Today marked another major milestone for the seahorse team as we tripled the number of Seahorse Hotels in Sydney Harbour. Successful Seahorse Hotel deployment is critical as the Posidonia seagrass and the Cauliflower soft coral that seahorses call home are also endangered. The Seahorse Hotels provide the perfect haven for these seahorses and their native habitats to flourish."Laura Simmons Curator at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
The White’s Seahorse breeding and recovery project is a collaborative effort between SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries, Ocean Youth, the Gamay Rangers, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the Sydney Institute of Marine Science , generous support from Taylors Wines and all those who support the campaign.
“To ensure the survival of the White’s Seahorse in the wild, it is essential that we maintain and protect the marine habitats that they rely on. If we lose the habitats, then we lose the seahorses.”Dr. David Harasti Senior Marine Scientist with DPI Fisheries
TIMELINE OF THE WHITE’S SEAHORSE RECOVERY PROJECT TO DATE
In October 2019, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium team worked closely with experts from DPI Fisheries and University Technology Sydney (UTS) to collect breeding pairs from Sydney Harbour, including some pregnant males.
The seahorses were then placed into a custom-built seahorse breeding facility at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, where dozens of White’s Seahorses were successfully bred on site and put on display to delight and educate visitors.
3. Prepare hotels:
In March 2020, nine Seahorse Hotels were placed underwater in Clifton Gardens, Mosman to provide new homes for the juvenile seahorses being raised at the aquarium.
4. Tag and release:
In May 2020, juvenile White’s Seahorses were carefully tagged for future monitoring. The seahorses were injected just under their skin, with coloured elastomer fish tags in a unique pattern, allowing them to be individually identified. The tagged seahorses were then successfully released into their Sydney Harbour ‘Seahorse Hotels’.
5. Additional Hotel drop
The team tripled the number of Seahorse Hotels in Sydney Harbour with the latest addition of nine Seahorse Hotels deployed to Delwood Beach and nine in Little Manly.
6. Baby Seahorse release #2
In September 2021, dozens more baby Seahorses will be tagged then released into the new Seahorse Hotel sites.
For more information on the Seahorse Project or to secure tickets to visit the baby seahorses that are currently on display in the Seahorse Breeding lab at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, visit: www.sydneyaquarium.com.au.