Seahorse Monitoring Network in Shallow Waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea
2018- on going
Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean sea
In Mexico, we find Hippocampus ingens in the Pacific coasts and H. erectus, H. reidi and H. zosterae in the coastal lagoons of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. They are threatened by the degradation of their habitats, incidental fishing, and overexploitation for their use in gastronomy, traditional medicine, aquarium trade, and curiosities in the popular markets. Due to that, the entire genus Hippocampus was listed on Appendix II of CITES in 2004. And in Mexico, are subject to special protection on Mexico’s NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2001. Despite this, there are no specific conservation plans for the species.
The last assessment to know the population size of Hippocampus erectus was carried out in 2016. Nevertheless, there are not recent studies about population size, trends, or environmental threats of the species that have been undertaken.
This project aims to generate a monitoring network of seahorses in shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to fulfill that gap of information about the species. This network is made up by nine high school education institutions, one university, and KALANBIO as an NGO.
The network's work will consist of carrying out population studies, conservation education, and awareness programs on a permanent basis in order to determine systematically the conservation status of Hippocampus erectus and turning the data into conservation action.
Capacity and collaboration building with academic institutions, through the implementation of cascade training protocols, that allow to coordinate assessments of seahorse populations in their region and train their students on an on going basis.
The training protocols for teachers include activities of awareness, biological monitoring, environmental education, population assessment techniques, human perception of seahorses, biological databases, water quality, citizen science platforms, statistical analysis, and biological conservation strategies. For high school students, the technical training topics range in biological database management, physicochemical data collection of water quality, field reporting, research platforms, and citizen science data.