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Image: Long nose seahorse image via Shutterstock

Bray Sea Life to display largest collection of seahorses in Ireland

This will also be the first time that the rare, Irish species of the long nosed seahorse will be on display.
Mar 2nd 2013, 7:00 AM 6,247 18

THE LARGEST COLLECTION of seahorses in Ireland is to be displayed at a new sanctuary in the Bray Sea Life aquarium in Co Wicklow. The sanctuary, which will contain up to 20 seahorses and five different species, will be launched in time for Easter.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, General Manager of the aquarium, Pat O’Súilleabháin, said it will be the first time that the native Irish hippocampus guttulatus, or long nosed seahorse, will be displayed in Ireland.

“Most seahorses are under some degree of threat and the Irish species certainly are,” he said. “It’s fair to say that this is something I’ve been looking to do for, going back ten years, and we’ve managed to finally get some.”

O’Súilleabháin said the threat to seahorses has been developing over the last few years as the creatures are used for both medicinal and decorative purposes.

“Globally there is a massive trade in them, particularly in Asia where they are highly valued for their medicinal values but I’ve also seen them as souvenirs, like dried seahorses on postcards,” he said. “I’ve come across them in shops in Ireland as well, coated in a resin and formed into jewelry and I’m sure most people who buy them don’t know that they’re the real thing.”

“It’s been a problem for quite a while and that’s part of the reason for this, so that the seahorses will be in a safe and secure environment and we hope that in due course we can start up some breeding programmes as well,” he added.

Bray Sea Life is part of a larger international group of aquariums and the seahorses will be captive bred fish, coming from some of the 35 centres across the world. O’Súilleabháin said it was important to have certified suppliers so that they “aren’t depleting natural populations and don’t become part of the problem”.

“We have new features on a regular basis but this has me more excited than anything else, O’Súilleabháin said. “The fact that we can develop the concept of the Irish seahorses as well just makes it magical.”

The sanctuary will be launched on 24 or 25 March.

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Michelle Hennessy

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