Our 3.8km Seahorse Swim is on 26 June 2011 near Knoll Beach on the Studland Peninsula. The event will support the Studland Seagrass and Seahorse Study Group.
Despite first appearances, seahorses are fish. Like their relatives, the pipefish, they have jaws fused into a narrow tube and use bellow-like cheeks to suck in small prey.
It is thought that seahorses first evolved their upright posture as an adaptation to living in seagrass meadows, taking advantage of the vertical stems for shelter and camouflage.
Of the two species found in the UK, the spiny seahorse is the one most associated with seagrass and most likely to be found at Studland.
Seahorses at Studland
Though seahorses are much in the news lately, they are not recent arrivals – local residents report finding seahorses at Studland decades ago. The first confirmed evidence of seahorses breeding at Studland (a pregnant male spiny seahorse) came in 2004 – there have been many more sightings since, including a pregnant short-snouted seahorse.
Anecdotally, there do seem to be more seahorses generally about over the last few years – there are certainly more reports. At Studland, that could simply be a reflection of the increased amount of effort looking for them.
In order to learn more about the seahorse population at Studland, the Seahorse Trust has embarked on a tagging project, which will follow individual seahorses for a number of years.
For more information about seahorses and the work of The Seahorse Trust – www.theseahorsetrust.org