THORNY SEA­HORSE

Scuba Diver Australasia + Ocean Planet - - Inspirational Images Of 25 Ocean Species Under Thr - Text by Ter­ence Koh Pho­tos by An­drew Mar­riott

ASIA DIVE EXPO

(ADEX 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 SPEAKER),

Brian McDair­mant & Lil­ian Koh

The thorny sea­horse, also called the spiny sea­horse, is na­tive to the wa­ters of the In­dian Ocean, and west and cen­tral

Pa­cific Ocean. It is char­ac­terised by its long snout and its slim, elon­gated body, which is cov­ered in dark-tipped spikes.

Its colour can vary from bright yel­low to pale pink or green to match its sur­round­ings and it has eyes which can move in­de­pen­dently of each other. It feeds on small crus­taceans, in­ver­te­brates or tiny young fish by wait­ing for prey to pass close by its mouth, then suck­ing them in with a quick in­take of water. Like all sea­horse species, the thorny sea­horse faces the threat of habi­tat loss, pol­lu­tion, and the ef­fects of global warm­ing. The high de­mand for the thorny sea­horse in the aquar­ium in­dus­try and in tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine has led to over­fish­ing. It is also vul­ner­a­ble as by-catch in shrimp fish­eries, which trawl the seafloor in­dis­crim­i­nately. It is listed along with all sea­horses on Ap­pen­dix II of the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which is de­signed to re­strict trade in these species but whose pro­tec­tions are no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to en­force.

BELOW: The thorny sea­horse is caught in tar­geted fish­eries and as by-catch, both prin­ci­pal con­trib­u­tors to steadily fall­ing num­bers (ADEX VOO 2016 Macro Photo of the Year fi­nal­ist – Sea­horse) by: Lil­ian KohWHENJuly 2015WHEREManado, In­done­siaHOW Canon Pow­er­Shot G15, (f/8, 1/80s, ISO 80)

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