Prelims level : Environment Mains level : GS-III Environment & Biodiversity | Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia
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  • Recent study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Threatened Taxa finds that extensive fishing off the Coromandel coast could be forcing the great seahorse to migrate laboriously toward Odisha.


  • Fishing is less intense in the Bay of Bengal off the Odisha coastline. However, the shallow coastal ecosystem of the eastern Indian State may not be the new comfort zone for Seahorses.
  • The study was based on a specimen of a juvenile great seahorse, or Hippocampus kelloggi.


  • Seahorses are a type of marine fish that are named for their distinctive head and neck, which resemble those of horses.
  • There are 46 species of seahorses reported worldwide.
  • The coastal ecosystems of India house nine out of 12 species found in the Indo-Pacific, one of the hotspots of seahorse populations that are distributed across diverse ecosystems such as seagrass, mangroves, macroalgal beds, and coral reefs.
  • These nine species are distributed along the coasts of eight States and five Union Territories from Gujarat to Odisha, apart from Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Seahorses are unique in that the males are the ones that become pregnant and give birth to their young.
  • They are also known for their monogamous mating habits, with some species of seahorses forming lifelong pair bonds.
  • Seahorses are poor swimmers but migrate by rafting- clinging to floating substrata such as macroalgae or plastic debris for dispersal by ocean currents to new habitats for successful maintenance of their population.


  • Seahorses are threatened by habitat destruction, overfishing, and the illegal trade in traditional medicines and souvenirs. Some species of seahorses are considered to be endangered, and conservation efforts are underway to protect them.
  • The population of the great seahorse, which is among the eight species tagged ‘vulnerable’, is declining due to its overexploitation for traditional Chinese medicines and as an ornamental fish, combined with general destructive fishing and fisheries bycatch.
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