60 million seahorses disappear each year due to traditional Asian medicine

the Seahorse Miquel Planas, a researcher at CSIC, explained to Efe that this species is threatened by climate change, poaching and poaching, with more than sixty million specimens caught annually for use mainly in traditional Asian medicine.


According to Planas, Principal Investigator in CSIC’s Marine Environment and Resources Group, it is expected that these animals, with the increase in ocean water temperatures caused by climate change, are some species that cannot be found outside the Netherlands or Great Britain, “They are moving north.”

But one of the biggest threats it faces, according to the researcher from the Supreme Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), is the seahorse or seahorse (Hippocampus) has a series of Traditional Chinese medicine recipes that attribute a series of health benefitswhich “sometimes has scientific confirmation and other times does not.”

Mafia business

The mafia operates in areas with large numbers of seahorses, such as Peru or southern Portugal, where “they illegally seize specimens”.


In Spain, and specifically in Malaga, thousands of seahorses have been confiscated of the illegal catch that was stuffed and ready to be sent to China for traditional medicine.”

Another danger facing this species is the destruction of its “human-type” habitats, such as areas with macroalgae or marine plants such as Posidonia or seaweed. Planas explains “Every half hour, the equivalent of a football field disappears from these plant communities around the world.”

To conserve these species, the NGO Oceánidas promotes the project Save the little big seahorsewhich is advised by Miquel Planas, and aims to keep existing populations of seahorses in the hands of a network of marine rangers, which includes more than 2,000 divers.

Andalusia and Galicia

“The Mediterranean is more prone to the appearance of these animals & rdquor;The researcher explains, and points out that with the Oceanids it is possible to report up to six seahorse colonies in Andalusia and also in Atlantic Galician.


But he stresses that it is “important” to continue investing in research to find out where seahorses are located, because, according to the expert, there are still “a few observations in the Bay of Biscay”, which limits the protection of seahorses. classify.

According to the entity currently seahorse It does not appear in the Spanish Catalog of Threatened Species due to lack of data and studieswhich aggregates their status and the number of specimens of the species, which have “seen a decline by about half in the past 50 years”.

In Spain there are two species of seahorse, Hippocampus hippocampus and Hippocampus Guttulatus.

Although more than 50 species of seahorses in the world Most of them are in the Indo-Pacific regions, and in Spain there are only two, namely hippocampus hippocampus and the Annular hippocampus.

These species live at a depth as shallow as ten meters, on the contrary, he says, “in Australian waters they can be seen up to a hundred meters deep.” ".

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One of the great curiosities about these syngnatids – the family to which seahorses belong along with tube fish and water dragons – is that “It is the only species in which the male takes care of the eggs and embryos.& rdcor;, They also share the labor whereby “the female begins to produce a new set of eggs when the male is still incubating the previous sets”.

AndSeahorses live between four and five yearsBut their reproduction is limited, as cycles take place between spring and autumn, and “only lay about 350 eggs at a time,” the researcher adds.

next to, It is the only fish that swims vertically.“They evolved this way because it makes it easier for them to camouflage themselves in seagrass meadows,” Planas explains, adding that they are able to “camouflage and hide from predators, usually larger fish.”

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Environmental department contact: [email protected]

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