New exhibit raises public awareness about endangered seahorses

The yellow Indo-Pacific seahorse is one of the new additions to the larger exhibit 

Tucked into an alcove around the corner from the Snorkel Lagoon, uShaka Sea World's new seahorse exhibit – home of a group of Knysna seahorses, yellow seahorses, lined seahorses and pipefish – is attracting great public interest.  

The new exhibit came about because visitors were unable to see the Knysna seahorses in their smaller exhibit, due to limited access.

Says aquarium curator Simon Chater: “We knew our seahorses were popular but perhaps we underestimated how long guests were spending at the seahorse window, which left some visitors unable to view them at all.”

It became evident that a larger seahorse display was needed to house more species and to enable more people to view the fascinating little marine creatures. Design and planning began, budgets and schedules were approved and aquarium staff started construction. Five weeks later the exhibit opened, in time for the holiday season.

Students are fascinated by the new seahorse exhibit at uShaka Sea World

Having the Knysna seahorse on display gives Aquarium education staff a perfect opportunity to highlight the threats facing this endangered fish. The biggest threat facing the Knysna seahorse is urban sprawl and the resultant disturbance of their natural estuarine habitat. Knysna seahorses are protected by South African law and it is prohibited to catch or disturb them in their natural environment.

The yellow seahorses on display were cultured in Cape Town's Two Oceans Aquarium and the lined seahorses were donated by Bayworld Aquarium in Port Elizabeth. The yellow seahorse is endemic to the Indo-Pacific region and the lined seahorse is found in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Although there are approximately 30 different seahorse species throughout the world, it is the endangered, endemic Knysna seahorse (Hippocampus capensis) that is best known in South Africa.  

Although seahorses don’t look like fish at all, with their hard bodies, prehensile tails, chameleon-like eyes and kangaroo pouches, they do belong to the fish family.

On your next visit to uShaka, make sure you allow for extra time to see these fascinating fish.

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