Fri, May 05, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Rare seahorses return to Green Island

By Chang Tsun-wei and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Coleman’s pygmy seahorse is pictured in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of Cool Diving Resort

The return of a rare species of tiny seahorse to the seas around Green Island shows that the marine environment had recovered from an oil spill in March, local scuba divers said on Monday last week.

The oil spill detected on March 10 was suspected to be caused by illegal dumping. Authorities are still looking for the culprits.

The spill led to a sharp reduction in the number of divers visiting the island, but enthusiasts who are skipping the area will be missing the prime season for viewing nudibranchs and the rare Coleman’s pygmy seahorses, diving coach Ho Chih-chung (何誌忠) said.

The seahorses are a rare sight because they do not venture from the depths they normally inhabit except between April and August, when they rise to a depth of between 7m and 13m, Ho said.

During the period, a stable-sized group of seahorses can be found in the waters between Jiangjyunyan (將軍岩) and Gongguangbi (公館鼻) on the island’s northern coast, Ho said.

Coleman’s pygmy seahorses — the smallest seahorse species — vary from 1cm to 3cm in length, making them difficult to spot, especially when they hide in the kelp, diving coach Lin Bo-guang (林博冠) said, adding that the seahorses are easily frightened.

The seahorses have also been sighted near Green Island, Orchid Island (蘭嶼, Lanyu) and Pingtung County’s Kenting (墾丁), and they normally live at a depth of at least 30m, Lin said.

The seahorses migrate to the waters north of Green Island to seek shelter and food, Lin said, adding that they leave the area during typhoons.

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