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Seahorses under threat from return of post-lockdown visitors

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Seahorses
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Seahorses off the coast of Dorset are under threat from the hordes of tourists flocking to the seaside as the country comes out of COVID-19 lockdown.

The Seahorse Trust had previously reported that during the lockdown period, they had discovered 46 seahorses during surveys off Studland, but that an influx of visitors – and the associated increase in activity in the bay – could see the animals reduce in numbers, or even disappear completely.

The Seahorse Trust founder Neil Garrick-Maidment explained that prior to this recent survey, no seahorses had been seen on dives since 2018, when a single dead one was found.

“As horrific as COVID-19 is, it has meant a lack of people and noise underwater, the food chain is better, and the seagrass can recover,” he said.

However, since the lockdown guidelines were eased, the South Coast has seen a huge influx of visitors, prompting Garrick-Maidment to urge people to ‘give nature a chance'.

He said: “It will have an effect – suddenly, with all the people and boats, the seahorses will vacate the site and we'll be back to numbers dwindling again.

“There has got to be action taken – we want to keep this impetus going to help these enigmatic and iconic creatures.”

 

British seahorses

Spiny and short-snouted species of seahorse have been protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 since 2008, which prevents them being killed, injured or taken.

Studland Bay was designated as a Marine Conservation Zone last year, and it is against the law to actively go on a dive to seek out and photograph seahorses.

 

Photo credit: Paul Lott / Seahorse Trust

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Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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