Treasures of the Posidonia | seahorse conservation in Ibiza

Seahorse conservation in Ibiza

Up until a few decades ago, seahorses were a common and much-loved sight in the waters of Ibiza. [Editor’s note: confirmed. I saw them myself, years ago, when scuba-diving (respectfully) off the coast of Ibiza]. Nowadays, sadly, they are so rare that they are considered a threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Seahorse conservation in Ibiza has become important.

How on earth could this tragedy have happened?

Well, although the cause is not known, seahorses’ survival depends on the preservation of the Posidonia seagrass. The Posidonia is one of the oldest and largest living entities on earth which continues to grow between Ibiza and Formentera. And this is why we bang on about why it is so vitally important that boats NEVER anchor over those ancient, marine meadows.

Seahorse conservation in Ibiza

So when Boats Ibiza HQ learned of a project to breed Ibiza seahorses in aquariums and then re-introduce them to their natural environment, there was much rejoicing. The project was introduced last year by biologist Manu San Felix. Known as “Posidonia Meadows, the Habitat of the Seahorse,” his aim is to contribute to the recovery of this endangered species in the waters of Ibiza and Formentera. The objective is to breed baby seahorses in captivity and then re-populate carefully targeted areas. And the best news of all is that the first babies have now been born!

Enthusiastic support

The initiative, which has the support of the Balearic Government, was taken on by the Vellmari Diving Centre in Formentera. They set up the first installation for seahorse breeding in aquariums with extensive monitoring. The work has to be meticulous when it comes to controlling the temperature of the water, its chemical composition and type of food given. As the project got underway, more support and backing was received from other establishments, including the Foundation for Conservation Ibiza and Formentera and Tag Heuer watches. This has made it possible to buy exhibition and breeding aquariums on both Ibiza and Formentera.

Seahorse spotting initiative coming soon

The organisers are keen for the people of Ibiza and Formentera to get involved. The Centre for Marine Species Recovery (CREM) in San Antonio has been incorporated into the project so that schools can learn about the breeding process of seahorses and the work involved in breeding and releasing captive seahorses. At the same time, a communications campaign will be launched whereby if people spot a seahorse, they can contact Vellmari with the date and place of sighting. That way, a map will be made open to the public, showing the true condition of the Ibiza seahorse population and its evolution over time. More news about this as we hear about it.

A most splendid initiative indeed, and one that we here at Boats Ibiza HQ applaud with relish.

Words | Jinny Throup

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