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Project information

Saving Seahorses

To create evaluate and then protect delicate habitats for seahorses within Plymouth Sound.
The Sound is both a delicate marine environment and a highly popular site for recreational water use and commercial shipping.
This conflict has the potential of destroying Seahorse populations.

April 2011 - April 2014

Charity information: National Marine Aquarium

National Marine Aquarium logo
  • Need


    A lack of public knowledge on the presence of native seahorses in Plymouth Sound means that these Biodiversity Action Plan Focus Species are threatened with habitat loss and destruction.
    The location and numbers of seahorses in the sound is not fully understood and a baseline survey needs to be undertaken to identify potential threats and also to identify actions that can be taken to protect this vulnerable species.


    By carrying out an initial ROV led survey of Plymouth Sound for seahorse habitats then following this with detailed diver surveys of likely locations we will estimate seahorse numbers.
    By overlaying these habitats onto a shipping and recreational usage map we will identify threats to the habitats.
    The final stage of the project will be to form multi-stakeholder groups of all sound users to form a seahorse protection strategy and implementation scheme.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To establish likely locations for seahorses in Plymouth Sound.


    » A comprhensive survey using ROV's to identify these habitats.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...Within the forst 12 months we aim to map all potential seahorse habitats in the Sound.

    Aim 2

    To carry out a detailed survey of these sites using trained divers.


    » In conjunction with local dive schools and training units we will survey all potential habitats and establish the presence of seahorses.
    » Tag and release studies will be used to look at migration of seahorses between sites.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...Within the first 24 months we aim to diver survey all likely locations to establish presence of Seahorses and estimates of numbers.

    Aim 3

    To create public awareness and effective protection of the sites using voluntary marine reserves.


    » Form multi-stakeholder groups to agree a management plan.
    » Create a public awareness campaign around the issues of the project.
    » Implement voluntary marine reserves to protect the key locations of seahorse habitat.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...By the end of the project we hope to have established voluntary marine reserves to protect seahorse habitats in the Sound.

  • Impact


    Conservation of native Seahorses in Plymouth Sound and a model for their conservation in other locations around the world.
    We also hope to increase public awareness of the presence of this BAP focus species in Plymouth Sound and use its presence to highlight the natural resources of the area.


    Conflict with recreational marine users (jetskiers, divers, yachtsmen, fishermen).
    We shall deal with thisrisk with the formation of a multi-stakeholder engagement group using advocacy techniques.


    Updates of the project will be included in the charities annual report and on its website, substantial donors will be informed personally and will be offered the chance to take part in boat or dive surveys.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £94,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £25,000 ROV Survey Boat and crew time and data analysis
      £15,000 Diver Survey Boat and staff time as well as equipment costs
      £5,000 Advocacy Establishment of stakeholder consultations
      £25,000 Protection Setting up voluntary marine reserves and public awareness.
      £24,000 Staff Costs Costs of supporting a PhD student project to run the entire project
  • Background


    Plymouth Sound is located on the South Devon coast and is an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is a very busy water way used by militrary vessels, commercial shipping, fishing, recreational boat users, recreational fishermen, divers and snorkellers.


    There will be considerable environmental conservation benefits fromteh project as seahorse habitats are also areas of high biodiversity.
    The local community will benefit from a higher level of engagement with the marine environment and we shall involve the local Marine Academy in the survey and public engagement.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The National Marine Aquarium is located on the Barbican in Plymouth, it is highly engaged with conservation groups, recreational users and also commercial and military users of the Sound. We are a founding member of the Plymouth Marine Sciences Partnership and have the expertise and knowledge required to carry out the work.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr David Gibson

    Managing Director of the National Marine Aquarium and has overall control of all aspects of the company

    Paul Cox

    Head of Science and Learning at the National Marine Aquarium. Paul is actively engaged with all of the stakeholders involved.

    Deborah Snelling

    Science and Diving Officer at the National Marine Aquarium.

    Neil Garrick-Maidment

    Director of the Seahorse Trust, a highly regarded expert in Seahorse Conservation.