Nov 8, 2008

Seahorses in Johor under threat

Sungai Pulai is just across the Johor Straits from our seagrass monitoring site at Tuas. Choo Chee Kuang, who is among those leading the Save our Seahorses effort, visited TeamSeagrass last year, and keeps in touch with us and our work.
Seahorse (Hippocampus sp.)
This seahorse was seen at Tuas in Apr 08 during TeamSeagrass monitoring there.

Seahorses in Johor under threat
Ahmad Fairuz, The New Straits Times 8 Nov 08;

JOHOR BARU: Seahorses here are swimming in troubled waters. The latest survey carried out at the Sungai Pulai estuary near Gelang Patah indicates a bleak future for the seahorse colony already on the brink of destruction.

The Johor Malaysia Nature Society said researchers spotted less than five seahorses in a seagrass area near an island at the mouth of the estuary, during their survey.

The estuary of Sungai Pulai is a 9,000ha area of mangroves and riverines, with 24 different species of trees.

But the area is slowly being destroyed, largely due to the development taking place on the banks of the Tebrau Straits, thus endangering the seahorses' marine habitat.

Society vice-chairman Dr Lum Wei Wah said the data provided by the Save Our Seahorses (SOS), a non-governmental organisation showed that the number of seahorses were on the decline.

"While there were between eight and 10 seahorses spotted off Pulau Merambong, near the estuary, in March and April, only five were spotted last month."

Pulau Merambong is a 0.3ha island situated 3km from Tanjung Kupang in Gelang Patah.

The Johor branch of the Malaysia Nature Society will present an environmental research report on the Sungai Pulai estuary and its colony of seahorses.

The report is an accumulation of a year-long study on the estuary and its environment.

Dr Lum said it would be presented to the state government and the Port of Tanjung Pelepas authority.

"It will detail suggestions on dealing with the pollutants that are evident in the waters and mangrove.

"So far, we have identified nitrogenous effluent as one of the pollutants and this may affect the population of seahorses downstream. The nitrogen is believed to be from the waste of oil palm estates which border the estuary."

The RM60,000 study was commissioned by the port authority, which has allocated funds to have the area gazetted as protected.

SOS head and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu marine biology lecturer Choo Chee Kuang said that development around the estuary had destroyed large tracts of seagrass beds, which were home to the seahorses.

More about Save our Seahorses on their website:

More about Pulau Merambong on the wildfilms blog

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