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SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium creates environment to conserve endangered White’s Seahorse species
A collaborative breeding program at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is contributing to the conservation of Sydney’s endangered White Seahorse species with babies (fry) having successfully survived and now thriving four months after their release into the wild.
The breeding program is a collaboration between SEALIFE Sydney, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries and the University of Technology (UTS) that began after a local Sydney species, the White’s Seahorse became listed as endangered.
This pilot project aims to determine if populations can be recovered by restoring their habitat through the use of Seahorse Hotels, artificial structures that become natural over time, creating the perfect environment for this species of seahorse.
Babies born into a custom-built seahorse breeding facility at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium were released in Clifton Gardens in Mosman in May and have since been observed weekly by a special team of divers under the guidance of a UTS Masters Research Student.
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Aquarist and seahorse expert, Robbie McCracken advised that the seahorse fry are growing well in their new natural environment adding “the release in May was successful and, with support from the SEALIFE Trust, we’ve been fortunate enough to work closely with UTS to observe their progress and growth through weekly monitoring, and can proudly say that they are getting on really well in their new Seahorse Hotels.
“We will be able to measure the full success of the program when the seahorses mate and breed, which we hope will begin this coming summer breeding season. Success here will hopefully open the door to the next avenues for the conservation of this species and their habitats.”
DPI Fisheries Senior Marine Scientist, Dr. David Harasti who has over a decade of experience working with the White’s Seahorse notes “with the species declining across its range in NSW, it’s important that we implement conservation measures to ensure the species decline in the wild is halted and reversed. Seahorse Hotels and conservation stocking are two such measures that we are trialling”.
Supporting post release survey and long-term research, David Booth, Professor of Marine Ecology at UTS is supervising a Masters Research student on this project and added “Bee Kyle is doing a great job research monitoring the seahorses weekly, noting movement and growth as well as persistence, whil being assisted by SEA LIFE and UTS divers”.
For more information on the future of the White’s Seahorse conservation breeding program, their endangered status and the Seahorse Hotels, click here
For more information on SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium visit sydneyaquarium.com.au/.
Image top: White’s Seahorse fry on Seahorse Hotels at Clifton Gardens and image above diver checking on the status of the Seahorse Hotel
25th September 2020 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium changes rockpool exhibit to reflect local ecosystems
28th March 2019 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium officially opens its Animal Rescue Centre
5th January 2017 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium welcomes colony of sub-Antarctic penguins
14th November 2013 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium unveils newly refurbished little penguin homes
24th September 2012 - Sydney Aquarium reopens as SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
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