The proprietors of Seahorse Aquariums have been researching seahorses for over 20 years with the effort focusing on key areas as follows;
• Surveying – It is still not known how many seahorses are in the world or their full distribution. New species are still being discovered almost on an annual basis and this trend will most likely continue as divers explore further into unknown waters.
In 2002 we got funded by the National Heritage Council to carry out a survey of seahorses around the Irish coast. This was the first time such a survey was carried out and was critical
as it gives us a base to work from. One of the reasons it is so necessary is that if the population drops significantly, reintroductions to the wild may be needed.
Seahorse Aquariums are also in partnership with The International Seahorse Trust and assists with the British seahorse survey and the studland tagging project.
• Juvenile dispersal patterns – Juveniles of each species of seahorse behave differently, with some remaining high in the water column for weeks whilst others drop out and settle on the bottom immediately after they are born. Such differences have implications for the distances fry might be able to disperse in the wild, and play a key role in investigating population dynamics n the field
• Behaviour – Seahorses are shy, elusive animals and little is known about their general behaviour. We have conducted many years of research on seahorse behaviour in both the wild and in captivity. The results allow us to;
• Provide better conditions for seahorses in captivity
• Help protect valuable seahorse habitats
• Give us a better understanding of seahorses.
• Breeding – It is internationally accepted that the best way to save seahorses from extinction is to grow them – “Conservation through Cultivation”
Our goal has been to develop a method to commercially cultivate seahorses and to transfer this technology to areas where seahorses are fished and thus help alleviate the pressures on the wild populations. We are currently in negotiations with conservation bodies and partners in Asia with a view to transferring our breeding technology.
Our research focus with this goal in mind has concentrated on the following;
• Nutrition – “We are what we eat” and it is no different for seahorses. Diet and nutrition is the single most important factor in cultivating seahorses and this has been the main focus of our research over the last 15 years.
• Environment – There are so many factors in determining the ideal environmental conditions for seahorses to thrive in captivity. Our research has focused on such areas as light, temperature, salinity, water depth, tank design, complexity of habitat and water flow among many others.
• Disease / Health – A seahorse’s health must be protected at all times. Our microbiology laboratory developed the world’s first seahorse vaccine that protects the seahorse against the common ailments that they may encounter.