The Long Goodbye
This beautiful and intriguing sea life specimen is unfortunately at risk for extinction. According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) the Red List of Threatened Species includes 38 seahorse species; 26 are listed as “data deficient" ( meaning there is insufficient information to assess their status), 10 as “vulnerable," one as “definitely endangered" and one as being of “least concern."
Several groups are diminishing the seahorse herds so that there are only half as many as there once were. The seahorse is popular in traditional Asian medicine and about 45 tons were used for this purpose in 1996. The seahorse carcasses are dried, crushed, baked, powered and more, in order to use them in concoctions for a host of ailments from baldness to goiters and wounds.
The tourist or curio trade takes them from the wild where they are marketed as souvenirs—a hollow dried up reminder of what once was a remarkable marine life.
The pet trade also contributes to horribly high numbers of illegal transactions where they wind up for people’s personal use in home fish tanks. The numbers that survive in this manner by amateur fish enthusiasts are abysmal.
In addition, their ocean habitat, the coral reefs, have diminished greatly over time. Coastal development, dredging, destructive fishing practices and incidents such as oil spills all contribute to their demise and an inability for the seahorse to adapt and live.