Situated in the heart of the Garden Route-Knysna is famous for its oysters, stone cliffs that separate the lagoons from the waves of the Indian Ocean, the Knysna forest and of course, the Knysna Seahorse. The endangered species is South Africa’s only endemic seahorse that is exclusively found in estuaries of Knysna, Swartvlei and Keurbooms.
The estuaries are at risk as a result of increased development, resulting in more holiday go-ers who enjoy fishing and boating in the seahorse specific area . They are accidentally captured in fishing gear, exploited for the use of traditional medicines, or sold as keepsakes. Many people have been led to believe that the tiny sea creature can cure skin problems, baldness and asthma if eaten.
The dwindling and already small habitat of the Knysna Seahorse is another contributing factor resulting in the fish species being added onto the IUCN Red Data List of Vulnerable Species, making it the only seahorse breed in the world to be listed as endangered. If the Knysna Seahorse habitat is not correctly managed and conserved, South Africa’s only seahorse could be wiped out for good.
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#DiveSouthAfrica – have you seen this beautiful and rare little guy on a dive in Knysna? The Knysna seahorse (Hippocampus capensis) is the best-known species of the five species seen around the Southern African coastline. It is the only seahorse that is endangered. Knysna seahorses are found only in the Knysna, Keurbooms and Swartvlei estuaries on the South Coast of South Africa. They are green to brown in colour and have the ability to change colour in order to blend in with their environment, making them difficult to spot and a rare treat when you do. ? @2oceansaquarium #eatsleepdive #marinelife #seahorse #knysnaseahorse #scubadiving #marineconservation #diving #scuba #visitknysna #knysna
In order to manage and conserve these populations, it is important to have consistent funding and volunteers, as well as educate everyone living and visiting the area.
Fun Facts about the Knysna Seahorse:
1. The endangered species can camouflage itself, like a chameleon, which makes it hard to find in the thick eelgrass it loves to inhabit. They camouflage themselves as a way of protection from predators.
2. The tail of the seahorse has such a strong grip that it is close to impossible to unwind the sea creature from corals or eelgrass.
3. The South African law protects the Knysna Seahorse from being removed from its habitat and kept as a pet. A specialised permit is needed in order to collect and keep them. Approximately 1 million seahorses are illegally caught annually for display in home and public aquariums. The law states that one is not allowed to catch these seahorses or disturb them in their natural environment.
4. There are 35 different species of seahorse which can be found in warm shallow waters all over the world.
There are many groups and organisations that you can join to help protect this unique sea animal:
1. The Knysna Seahorse Status (KySS) project (part of the Knysna Basin Project) http://knysnabasinproject.co.za/
2. Joining beach clean-ups contributes to helping the sensitive eco-system at the Knysna estuary thrive.
3.Project Seahorse: http://www.projectseahorse.org/