Save the Seahorse - The Process

Last updated on Sun, 2014-04-20 04:10. Originally submitted by Jenny on 2011-06-16 17:09.

Seahorses to be used in traditional Chinese medicine, Hong Kong. Photo courtesy of Project Seahorse.

Modified by Jessica Haapkyla 2014-04-15

Your team will:

1.     Research the biology of two species of seahorses.

2.     Research the geographic distribution of the two species of seahorses.

3.     Research the human uses of the two species of seahorses.

4.     Research sustainable harvesting methods that have been proposed by Project Seahorse.

5.     Develop a plan to study the effect of one sustainable harvesting method.

6.     Create a presentation to secure funding for your study.

Divide the tasks 1 though 4 among your group members so that each person has one research task. Work together to complete tasks 5 and 6.

Task 1. The Biology of Hippocampus barbouri and Hippocampus comes


The natural lifespan of seahorses vary between one to five years. Due to their excellent camouflage, sedentary lifestyle and bony plates, seahorses do not have many predators. For some seahorses, humans are the only predators. 


The Question: Why are the populations of these two species of seahorses so sensitive to current fishing practices?


Explore general seahorse biology on Project Seahorse’s web site and the biology of H. barbouri and H. comes on the IUCN Red List of Threatened species. More on seahorse reproduction at the National Geographic website.



Task 2. Geographic Distribution of Hippocampus barbouri and Hippocampus comes


The Question: Where are these two species of seahorses found?

How does geography explain the occurrence of these species?


To create a map showing the geographic distribution of these two species, please use the OBIS Portal. At the portal, select the "Search Data" tab and then "Click search and browse taxa". Enter the scientific name of the seahorse you will be mapping, Hippocampus barbouri and/or Hippocampus comes. "Click to search and browse datasets". When the database search is complete, select "Update map" Once the map appears, you may change its orientation by using the menu above the map. If you would like to save a map click on "Show results" then click on "Download" then click WMS", "Show Background", and "Save as Image". 



Task 3. Human uses of Hippocampus barbouri and Hippocampus comes


The world’s seahorse populations are declining fast. H. barbouri and H. comes are both commercially important seahorse species.  


The Question: What uses do humans have for seahorses?


To learn more about the population decline of uses of seahorses H. barbouri and H. comes visit the IUCN Red List. To learn about human uses of seahorses, visit the NOVA and the Save our Seahorses websites.

Learn more about the economic importance of seahorses. How has demand for seahorses affected the population? Are there other factors that have placed stress on seahorse populations?


Task 4. Sustainable Harvesting Methods

In order to save the seahorses, it is essential to create sustainable harvesting methods. Creating alternative sources of income for the local fishermen should be a priority. 


The Question: What are some possible sustainable harvesting methods?

The harvesting of seahorses is economically important to small-scale fisheries in the Philippines. Learn more about the fisherman's viewpoint. Learn more about the conservationist's viewpoint. Find out more about seahorse conservation methods and how to manage seahorse fisheries.

Task 5. The Plan

 Since you are a team of research scientists, your plan will need the following parts:

1.     Research question- State the question that your research project will answer.

2.     Background information- Provide information that someone would need to know in order to understand your plan. Be sure to cite sources of information. This is the place to put information about seahorse biology, geographic distribution, human uses of seahorses, and sustainable harvesting methods.

3.     Hypothesis- A statement that describes the expected outcome of your project.

4.     Materials- What you will need to conduct your research or implement your project and why these are essential.

5.     Procedure- List the steps you would take to conduct your research.

6.     Why your team thinks the plan will work- Link this to seahorse survival and sustainability of the seahorse populations. Show a cause and effect relationship.


Task 6. The Presentation

Now it's time to sell your plan. There's only so much money to go around. Will your presentation convince the foundation to fund your research? Your presentation should include all the elements of your team's plan. Use visual aids such as maps, pictures, charts, tables, and/or an outline of key points. The presentation may be done with the use of a computer-based presentation program or overhead transparencies. Each person should be responsible for presenting at least one part of the plan.

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OBIS strives to document the ocean's diversity, distribution and abundance of life. Created by the Census of Marine Life, OBIS is now part of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, under its International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) programme.