The largest release of seahorses ever undertaken took place last week, with 350 Endangered White’s Seahorses successfully deployed into Seahorse Hotels in the first ever Port Stephens release!
This deployment is part of the White’s Seahorse Conservation Recovery Project, which is a collaboration between NSW DPI Fisheries and SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium.
Following this monumental seahorse release, divers from NSW DPI Fisheries will regularly monitor the populations at the site to assess their survival, growth and movements.
The released seahorses will live on the Seahorse hotels and then come October, the seahorses will start breeding, which will hopefully contribute to the recovery of this Endangered species within Port Stephens.
The White’s Seahorse Conservation Recovery Project is an important step for this iconic threatened Australian species, with these artificial habitats providing a necessary place to live and aid in their natural recovery.
Why is the White’s Seahorse threatened?
The primary cause for the decline in abundance of White’s Seahorse is the loss of natural habitats across their range in eastern Australia. The seahorses occur within coastal estuaries and embayments which are areas subject to population pressure.
Within Port Stephens, over 90% of the soft coral and sponge habitats have declined at sites where the seahorse used to be abundant. Habitats in Port Stephens have been destroyed through the installation of boat moorings, boat anchors and the inundation of habitat by sand movement.
Within Sydney Harbour, population pressure has caused their natural habitats to decline and, as a result the species is now predominantly found on man-made swimming nets within the harbour. These nets are periodically cleaned to remove the marine growth and repair the structural integrity of the nets which can lead to further displacement of seahorses and cause populations to dramatically decline. DPI Fisheries has been working with councils to develop practices which avoid damage to seahorses during net cleaning and repair.
For more information on The White’s Seahorse Recovery Project, please visit DPI Fisheries Website – https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/species-protection