Many of the seahorses that research volunteers were monitoring last summer have returned to to breed again this summer. Danny and Queenie are still a couple, and Danny has had at least one pregnancy so far. They have adopted a different territory within the Seahorse City area this year. Eagle-eyed volunteer research divers have also spotted several new individuals, and had the honor of choosing their names.
A strange finding was a black female Hippocampus hippocampus that we've named Beauty. Normally they are well camouflaged to blend in with the algae or dead Posidonia oceanica roots. The black female was vulnerable as she really stood out against the sand and algae and could be spotted by a tourist or predator. She was also missing her right eye, making her doubly vulnerable to being eaten by the many octopus living there! We expected to find her easily when we returned for a second survey dive, but she had disappeared.
According to The Seahorse Trust, with which we form part of The Seahorse Alliance, the dark colouration was dues to stress. No wonder after losing an eye, although the injury did not look very recent. Seahorses are very susceptible to stress, and carry dormant viruses that can mulitply and cause the death of the animal if stress is prolonged. This is why we do not use flash when photographing them. Let's hope that she has hidden herself away successfully and we are able to find her again, and monitor her throughout the summer.