Seahorses and the places they live face a range of threats in the wild, including destruction of the coral reefs and sea grass beds where seahorses live, fishing techniques that mistakenly catch seahorses and collection of seahorses for souvenirs or for use in traditional medicines.

One-week-old juvenile yellow seahorses

As a result, seahorse populations have been devastated globally. In 2004, all seahorse species were listed as near-threatened by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

To help wild populations and enhance genetic diversity of seahorses in public aquariums, our husbandry biologists are culturing seahorses. Our aim is to perfect culture techniques, breed and rear enough seahorses to meet exhibit needs and provide surplus animals to other accredited facilities. Despite the challenges, we've succeeded in breeding five species and have reared captive-bred offspring of three: the lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus), White's seahorse (Hippocampus whitei) and the shortsnout seahorse (Hippocampus breviceps). Our special exhibition, The Secret Lives of Seahorses, provided opportunities to rear even more species.