What are we doing to monitor Seahorses?
Our efforts to research local seahorse populations began in April of 2013. Seahorses have always been quite rare around Koh Tao, but after seeing only one individual in 6 months we began asking if maybe their populations where declining. At about the same time we were introduced to the iSeahorse.org group and all of the great work they are doing there, including their online global database for seahorse sightings.
We began to develop our own local survey techniques for the seahorses, that would accommodate our team of trained conservation divers. Since then we have conducted many seahorse surveys, some random, or roving diver surveys, and the others a long a transect line. At the end of the article you can see the photos from our two most recent findings.
Although it is not very often that we find any seahorses during our actual seahorse surveys, this is still good data for us to collect. Based on this research we can conclude that seahorses are quite rare, and that possibly their fishing or trade of seahorses around our area should not be allowed, as it cannot possibly be sustainable.We have also found many interesting and rare species of fish and invertebrates on these ‘muck dives,‘ making them a favorite activity for our team, and also contributing to our other invertebrate research projects.
We have however found seahorses at other times, either during fun dives or even walking on the beach. From these occurrences we can collect data on the species that we have around our island. We can also look at the catch from trawlers and get an idea about what species are in the region (the trawlers will show us the seahorses, but generally not tell us where they were caught).