#GS3 #Ecology #Environment #Biodiversity #NewSpecies
A new species of seahorse discovered in the waters of Sodwana Bay, South Africa, which falls within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site, in KwaZulu-Natal province.
- Hippocampus nalu grows to a maximum size of just two centimetres. It is the first pygmy seahorse ever discovered in African waters.
- Hippocampus nalu is physically and genetically distinct from the seven known species of pygmy seahorses.
- Its nearest relatives are found more than 8,000 km away in the Pacific Ocean.
- Seahorses are threatened all around the world. Many species are at risk of becoming extinct because of human activities such as bottom trawling, over-fishing, and habitat destruction.
- As a result, several species are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- However, to date no pygmy seahorses are considered threatened — because we simply do not know enough about them.
- By discovering more species, and learning more about these tiny creatures, scientists can offer advice on how best to protect them.
- Pygmy seahorses can also provide an important boost for tourism: scuba divers love these small species and are willing to travel far and wide for a chance to see them.
- If coastal communities and scuba divers alike are taught about the best ways to protect these species and others in the oceans, there can be huge economic and social benefits.
- The most astonishing part of this discovery is that it didn’t start in a laboratory, or with keen scientific minds assessing the likelihood of finding a pygmy seahorse in African waters. Instead, it began with a photograph.