The Seahorse Conservation Laboratory
Each year, millions of seahorses are collected alive in the wild and dried — some sold as traditional medicines, others sold as curios in souvenir shops. Through this trade, more than 25 million seahorses are consumed annually, causing concern that wild populations are becoming depleted and even endangered.
To showcase the need for seahorse conservation — and our own efforts to support the unique aquatic critters — Mote Aquarium has renovated its breeding facilities and created a new exhibit: The Seahorse Conservation Laboratory."By growing the seahorses here, we help educate our visitors, provide animals for other aquariums and reduce the need to remove them from the wild for education purposes," says Mote Aquarium Vice President Dan Bebak. "That just makes perfect conservation sense."
You can learn more about Mote's Seahorse Conservation Laboratory during special behind-the-scenes tours of this unique facility. Click to learn more.
In addition to the lined seahorses (Hippocampus erectus) that Mote Aquarium displays, it shares offspring with more than 20 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums nationwide. (The Association of Zoos and Aquariums sets strict standards for animal keeping.) In fact, nearly 40 percent of all lined seahorses on display at these facilities were born at Mote.
In the wild, only an estimated one in 1,000 seahorses survives to adulthood. At Mote, easily 50 to 75 percent of the seahorses survive — that's quite astounding for a species that gives birth every 28 days or so — and a testament to the superior care that seahorse keeper Shawn Garner provides! (Click here to learn more.)
If you come to see the exhibit, you won't want to miss the two 8-foot sea horse statues adorning the doorway leading from the Aquarium courtyard to the exhibit. These statues came to Mote from the Sarasota Quay that was demolished in 2007. Showcasing them here was made possible by Graham Interiors, Ball Construction, John and Deborah Dart and Ruden McClosky. The statues are replicas of the iconic seahorse statues that stood at the Lido Beach Casino for nearly 30 years.
Mote Marine Laboratory has been a leader in marine research since it was founded in 1955. Today, we incorporate public outreach as a key part of our mission. Mote is an independent nonprofit organization and has seven centers for marine research, the public Mote Aquarium and an Education Division specializing in public programs for all ages.