The rare brightly colored West African Seahorse species, the Hippocampus algiricus . was found and filmed off the coast of Senegal by Researchers of the Zoological Society of London. The West African Seahorse is found in locations such as the Atlantic Ocean off Algeria, Angola, Benin, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. However, this rare species has been declining due to pollution, overfishing, and other issues. So far, the population of the species is unknown. Nevertheless, The sea creature is often found by fisherman that catch and release the species back into the water. Other than that, the Hippocampus algiricus is primarily known from museum specimens.
According to researcher Kate West, who was part of a joint seahorse research project, “so little is known about the West African Seahorse”. She also claims that no research has been done on the species due to “the driving conditions of the coast of West Africa.” Apparently, studies surrounding the West African Seahorse hold importance in the future for the efforts of marine conservation.
Various projects are actually considering using the species for Chinese Medicine Treatments. Around 600,000 of the seahorses should be exported annually with the treatment in mind.
Some threats to the species include Shrimp trawling and habitat degradation. However, various scientists and researchers are seeking to save the species. Chris Ransom, the West and North Africa program manager at ZSL seeks to crack down on seahorse cooking. When referring to his teammates, he states that “we will help the seahorse populations thrive”.
Researchers hope to publish their findings on the species in the New Year. According to the researchers, still a lot has to be done to protect the sparse and interesting species.
- Brian Clark Howard. First Video of Rare Brightly Colored Seahorse. National Geographic. October 10, 2012.