Our conservation research season has started and a seahorse survey dive in a secret location on the Costa Brava, Spain, this month revealed the first returner to the Seahorse City research area. She is a Hippocampus guttulatus named "White Eyes". Located about 25 meters from where she was living last summer, she was alone and the male thought to be her mate, "Mike", was not seen on this ocassion.
Algae is beginning to develop to provide the cover that seahorses require when feeding outside the relative safety of the Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadow. However, the lovely weather has brought many tourist boats that are anchoring in and around this area, causing considerable disturbance. In fact, apart from a few large features, it was very difficult to recognise the specific spots where last summer's 28 individual seahorses were living and being monitored.
The seahorses' preferred food source – mysis shrimps - is now in evidence, but not as plentiful yet as during the height of summer. The unusually high April/May temperatures are warming the Mediterranen sea quicker than last year, which will reinforce the increasing daylight hours effect upon the seahorses' egg production and the length of gestation. This should result in a bumper year for seahorse reproduction at Seahorse City!
An article on the Seahorse Project has been published here with a video of "Mr Itchy" showing his comical scratching behaviour last summer. Fortunately he survived the parasite attack and stopped scratching.
Volunteer research divers who join for at least three weeks are able to take part in the Seahorse Project research.