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Context: Extensive fishing off the Coromandel coast could be forcing the great seahorse to migrate laboriously toward Odisha.
- The Hippocampus kelloggi, one of 12 species of fish with a horse-like head found in the Indo-Pacific region, could be migrating toward coastal Odisha due to fishing pressures
- Fishing is less intense in the Bay of Bengal off the Odisha coastline. But the shallow coastal ecosystem of the eastern Indian State may not be the new comfort zone for the fish with a horse-like head,
- There are 46 species of seahorses reported worldwide.
- The coastal ecosystems of India house nine out of 12 species found in the Indo-Pacific, one of the hotspots of seahorse populations that are distributed across diverse ecosystems such as seagrass, mangroves, macroalgal beds, and coral reefs.
- These nine species are distributed along the coasts of eight States and five Union Territories from Gujarat to Odisha, apart from Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- The population of the great seahorse, which is among the eight species tagged ‘vulnerable’, is declining due to its overexploitation for traditional Chinese medicines and as ornamental fish, combined with general destructive fishing and fisheries bycatch.
- Despite the ban on fishing and trading activities on seahorses from 2001, clandestine fishing and trading still take place in India.
- Seahorses are poor swimmers but migrate by rafting -- clinging to floating substrata such as macroalgae or plastic debris for dispersal by ocean currents – to new habitats for successful maintenance of their population.
- Seahorses are tiny fishes that are named for the shape of their head, which looks like the head of a tiny horse. There are at least 50 species of seahorses.
Seahorse Conservation Status: Endangered
Main Prey: Tiny Fish, Brine Shrimp, Plankton
Distinctive Feature: Long snout and brooding pouch on the male
Habitat: Shallow tropical waters and coral reefs
Predators: Fish, Crabs, Rays
Slogan: Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!