In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the National Marine Fisheries Service has agreed that the dwarf seahorse may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act and is accepting comments until July 3 before making a decision. We will compile and submit these comments then, but please continue to sign and share after this comment period because it's important to show the decision makers that people are keeping an eye on this issue.
The smallest seahorse in America, the dwarf seahorse faces big problems: water quality degradation in the Gulf of Mexico, pollution from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and cleanup and, most importantly, loss of their seagrass habitat.
Dwarf seahorses are habitat specialists, so as seagrasses disappear the seahorses vanish with them. More than 50 percent of Florida seagrasses have been destroyed since 1950, and in some areas losses are as steep as 90 percent. These one-inch-long fish are not the only wildlife that depends on seagrass to survive, but they are the cutest.
Dwarf seahorses form monogamous pair bonds, and every morning they meet to perform a greeting dance. As with other seahorses, females place scores of eggs inside the males’ pouches, and the males then give birth to even tinier versions of adults. Boat propellers, shrimp trawlers and ocean acidification are all harming the seagrass these delicate animals need to survive.
Please take a moment right now to write to the Fisheries Service and tell it to grant dwarf seahorses the protection they so dearly need.
You can learn more about dwarf seahorses and the challenges they face here. Photo courtesy of Jeff Jeffords, find more at divegallery.com.
Because they are habitat specialists, the dwarf seahorses’ fate is directly tied to the seagrass habitat they depend on to survive. Find one in the Gulf fof Mexico, and you find the other; but since 1950 Florida has lost more than half its seagrass habitat, with losses in some areas surpassing 90 percent. There has also been dramatic seagrass loss in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and the Bahamas.
Dwarf seahorses and seagrass -- already in decline before the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill -- have been pushed to the brink by the oil and toxic dispersants used in the cleanup. Pollution from the spill continues to linger and impede recovery.
The seahorses’ seagrass habitat is threatened by declining water quality, damage from boat propellers and shrimp trawlers, and ocean acidification from global climate change. The fish are directly threatened by collectors who capture them for sale in the aquarium trade, as curios and as traditional medicine.
Dwarf seahorses are a national treasure and an important component of our coastal ecosystems. Please ensure their survival and grant them the protections they need to recover and thrive.
Thank you for your consideration.