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22 June 2010, 11:01 | Updated: 22 June 2010, 11:08
A rare species of British seahorse which was rescued after being accidentally caught in fishermen’s nets has delighted staff at Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium by making a full recovery.
The young male was close to death when he was brought in to the Southsea aquarium earlier this month.
However marine experts at the aquarium are so pleased with his progress that they plan to introduce him to a rescued female from another aquarium in the hope that they will breed.
Blue Reef’s Lindsay Holloway said: “It really was touch and go when he first arrived at the aquarium. “Apparently the fishermen had only spotted him after he had been out of the water for some time and we were concerned he wouldn’t make it.
“However thanks to some hard work and tender loving care from the aquarists he’s made a remarkable recovery over the last few weeks and he’s now strong enough to leave our quarantine area and go into his own display.
“If all goes well the plan is for him to be introduced to a female from another aquarium in the hope that they will mate,” he added.
Although extremely rare, there are actually believed to be two separate species of seahorse found in British waters – the short snouted and the spiny.
Short snouted seahorses are found in shallow muddy waters, in estuaries or inshore amongst seaweed and seagrasses along the south coast with further populations recorded in the Channel Islands and Ireland.
Recent research by marine experts suggests that rather than just visiting our shores both species are permanent residents in UK waters.
The seahorse is unusual in the animal kingdom in that it is the male rather than the female which carries the babies and gives birth to them via a special brood pouch on their stomach.
The female seahorse lays her eggs in the male’s pouch. He then fertilises them and incubates them until they’re ready to emerge.
In the wild virtually all species of seahorse are now under threat from a variety of sources. These include loss of habitat, pollution, the souvenir trade and traditional Far East medicine.