Since 1998, the John G. Shedd Aquarium has been a key partner with Project Seahorse, an international organization dedicated to studying and protecting seahorses while helping people who depend upon them for their livelihoods. Shedd’s strength in communication, exhibitry, husbandry and education complements Project Seahorse’s field conservation, policy and research expertise. Together, they protect seahorses threatened by overfishing, habitat loss and degradation and bycatch — being unintentionally caught by fishers targeting other species.
From 1998 through 2003, Shedd’s Seahorse Symphony exhibit highlighted the work of Project Seahorse and demonstrated that by saving seahorses, we can save the seas they live in. Seahorse Symphony’s popularity led to a permanent seahorse exhibit, Seahorses and Seadragons, in 2005. Shedd Aquarium and Project Seahorse developed the first-of-its-kind seahorse husbandry manual, which remains the reference for other public aquariums around the world.
In 2002, the Shedd Aquarium/Project Seahorse partnership helped secure protection for all 32 species of seahorses under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international agreement that identifies species whose trade must be managed to ensure their survival. Of all wildlife trade issues under international conservation management, seahorses represent the greatest volume: more than 24 million are traded each year among at least 77 nations.
The partnership has also benefited community-based conservation programs run by Project Seahorse in the Philippines’ Danajon Bank coral reef. More than 30 marine protected areas (MPAs) have been established, monitored and managed as sanctuaries where fish and ecosystems can recover. The programs support research biologists, community organizers and high school students, strengthening both the communities and the marine habitat that surrounds them.
Shedd Aquarium and Project Seahorse have generated tremendous enthusiasm for these fascinating animals, inspired the professional aquarium community to learn more about their care and conservation, and their collaboration continues to advance marine conservation around the world.
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