Fresh calls have been made for “environmentally friendly moorings” to be used off the Dorset coast in the UK in a bid to increase seahorse population.
The appeal by the Seahorse Trust comes after about 50 short-snouted seahorses were discovered recently off Bournemouth, which it described as “absolutely incredible”. Last year there were only 20 sighted off Dorset in total and recently there have been several years without a single sighting. Many thought this important UK seahorse population was doomed.
Neil Garrick-Maidment, director of the Seahorse Trust, said the recent find by a local fisherman had been particularly “fascinating” because many of the short-snouted seahorses were “sub-adults” or juveniles which suggested they had survived the winter and were about six months old.
In a bid to protect short-snouted and also spiny seahorses, which are found in the seagrass beds of Studland Bay, he said moorings which “stop dragging on the sea bed, stop destroying seagrass but still allow boats to tie out” needed to be used.
Environmental or eco-friendly boat moorings often use bungee-type rope instead of chains, to reduce the damage to seagrass caused by the chains being pulled back and forth over this fragile ecosystem. Trial moorings at Studland Bay were put on hold in 2013, and the move has some opposition amongst the sailing community.
Neil, from The Seahorse Trust, added authorities needed to do more to protect both short snouted and spiny species which were protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 in 2008.
Photos: The Seahorse Trust