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January 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Sounding Off on the Seahorse's Plight

from the January, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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In the November issue, our veteran writer John Bantin wrote about the United Kingdom's recent ban on the use of flash photography on seahorses, but that the real threat to the creatures may be the manhandling of them by over-eager divers, and the dive guides who want to please their paying customers. Undercurrent reader Randy Preissig (San Antonio, TX) wrote us to express his thoughts, and why divers shouldn't immediately be the ones to blame for the seahorse's sad situation.

Ben, how many seahorses do you think are photographed by all the underwater photographers in the world in one year? I would guess 10,000 to 20,000. Of course, some are photographed multiple times on multiple dives -- a dive boat can return to a known seahorse site week after week, and be relatively assured the seahorse will still be there for up to 20 obsessed photographers each time. This alone makes a strong statement regarding the effect of flash photography on seahorses, i.e., it can't be that bad. But compare whatever harm might be done to these few animals to the estimated 20 million seahorses killed each year [they are used in traditional Chinese medicine]. Or the somewhat less-impressive hundreds of thousands taken for home aquariums each year. Or the impossible-to-quantify die-offs due to "loss of habitat" and poisoning due to sewage, chemicals, etc. There are places where seahorses used to be seen commonly, and where a sighting now is literally news. Every last one of them can't have been traumatized by diving photographers!...


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