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Measuring up to a foot tall, Pacific seahorses are among the giants of the seahorse world. The Pacific seahorse is the only seahorse species found along the California coast, ranging from San Diego Bay to Peru, and is usually found in shallow beds of soft corals and gorgonians. This species comes in a variety of colors, including gray, brown, red, and yellow, which often match its surroundings.
In Asia and elsewhere, dried seahorses have been used as medicine for thousands of years. But as the number of people living on our planet increases, the demand for seahorses grows—and the number of seahorses shrinks. Each year, tons of Pacific seahorses are caught, dried and shipped to Asia.
By supporting marine protected areas in southern California, visitors to and residents of California can help preserve the habitat of the western United States’ only seahorse species, which is “vulnerable” according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Though they live among thickets of coral and gorgonians along the seafloor, Pacific seahorses are sometimes eaten by tuna.