Stranded seahorse recovering
A rare seahorse is recovering after being found stranded on mudflats on the UK coast, an aquarium said.
The spiny seahorse was discovered near Weymouth, Dorset, by Justin Roulland, the owner of a fishing tackle shop in Portsmouth, Hampshire, while he was out digging for ragworm. The tiny fish had become stranded on the mudflats above the waterline after a particularly high tide and was at risk of being attacked by seagulls.
The seahorse was taken by Mr Roulland to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth, which is now looking after it.
Blue Reef's Robbie Robinson said: "The little fellow is recovering well and appears to be in relatively good condition. It's difficult to be certain how he came to be stranded in the mud although it's quite possible that he could have been picked up by a bird in the shallows and accidentally dropped.
"Justin said there had been a very high tide and when he found him he was barely alive. Apparently he popped him in a bucket of seawater and then nursed him overnight before bringing him in to us. As he was stranded above the waterline and at risk from the seagulls, it was definitely the right thing to do."
Blue Reef is currently involved in a nationwide captive seahorse breeding programme and when it has recovered, it is planned to transfer the seahorse to the aquarium's sister centre in Newquay, Cornwall, to join a pair of female spiny seahorses.
Mr Robinson said that there are thought to be two species of seahorse found in British waters - the short snouted and the spiny.
He said: "The seahorse is unique in the animal kingdom in that it is the male rather than the female which carries the babies and gives birth to them via a special brood pouch on their stomach. The female seahorse lays her eggs in the male's pouch. He then fertilises them and incubates them until they're ready to emerge into the great outdoors.
"In the wild virtually all of the approximate 34 species of seahorse are now under threat from a variety of sources.
"These include loss of habitat, pollution, the souvenir trade and traditional Far East medicine - believed to account for the deaths of more than 20 million seahorses annually."