A species of Seahorse has been spotted along Dorset’s coast after three years of absence.
South beach along Studland Bay is home to many species of marine life including the protected seahorse.
Since 2008 the Seahorse Trust have monitored the declining spiny and short snouted seahorse across Studland Bay to help protect the species.
Only 14 of the species have been sighted in the UK this year, with an absence in Studland for three years.
Studland is well known for it’s vast marine and coastal life and is a popular location for many boats to moor along the bay.
The sea beds are often damaged due to boat anchors breaking down the sea-grass. Neil Garrick- Maidment of the Seahorse trust said “This break down of the ecosystem effects food and habitats.”
These species of seahorse have been protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 from 2008, preventing the remaining numbers of them from being killed, injured or taken.
The trust have been using tagging and head-shots to monitor numbers and each individual seahorse. A non-invasive close range photo is taken to identify each seahorse, and allows them to build a detailed picture of their ecology. Tagging the seahorses also allows the trust to learn about breeding and territory patterns.
To further protect the Bay the seahorse trust have put Studland forward as a Marine Conservation Zone for the third time. The last two recommendations were unsuccessful. They are hoping to find out by December if it will be selected to become a conservation area, and if selected the trust will work to improve the site and encourage environment friendly mooring.
Mr Garrick-Maidment said “Although it is too late in the year now for more seahorses to come into the area, the sighting of the young female has given us hope that more will start returning particularly next year”
“If the site becomes a conservation area then the growing habitat and food will continue to attract more seahorses back to the coast, and environmentally friendly mooring will help the seabed to grow and provide an ecosystem for the seahorses to thrive”.
The Seahorse Trust hope that this exciting sighting will mean a better future for the spiny and short snouted seahorse along Dorset’s coast.
Listen below to find more out about the decline of Studlands ecosystem from Neil Garrick-Maidment, Director of the Seahorse Trust.
To find out more information about the Seahorse Trust follow the link http://www.theseahorsetrust.org/