Every year, over 20 million seahorses are taken from their habitats to be used for medicinal and commercial use, causing concern that wild populations of seahorses are dwindling. As an update to the post on seahorses we ran back in August, I’d like to highlight a seahorse conservation meeting that took place last weekend in Chicago.
The John G. Shedd Aquarium hosted “The Husbandry, Management and Conservation of Syngnathids,” or Seahorse Symposium for short. Leaders in syngnathid conservation from around the globe assembled to discuss all things seahorse.
“From the time our fascination with these charismatic species began in 1998 through our award-winning Seahorse Symphony exhibit, Shedd Aquarium has carried on its commitment to the survival of seahorses in the wild,” said Chuck Knapp, director of conservation and research at Shedd Aquarium. “We’re proud to welcome back the world’s best and brightest thinkers in marine conservation to address the new husbandry innovations, ongoing conservation work and past challenges that affect this fragile species.”
Experts at this international conference include leaders in science, conservation and research from the Zoological Society of London, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Project Seahorse. The collaborative partnership between Shedd Aquarium and Project Seahorse, which began in 1998, has yielded many achievements in the conservation of seahorses and their habitat. In the first year of the partnership, the two institutions created the first seahorse husbandry manual – the guiding reference for numerous other public aquariums around the world. Shedd Aquarium and Project Seahorse also successfully aided in securing the protection of 32 species of seahorses under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and together they helped to establish over 30 marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Philippines’ Danajon Bank coral reef.
The meeting highlights how AZA accredited institutions, in partnership with other wildlife organizations, can be a powerful voice for wildlife and their habitats.