Diver spots rare seahorse off UK coast

Mark Parry saw the long snouted seahorse among the seagrass near Plymouth.

Biologists have been treated to a sighting of a rare seahorse of the coast of the UK.

Mark Parry, a development officer with the Ocean Conservation Trust (OCT), was surveying seagrass near Plymouth in Devon when he spotted the long snouted seahorse, also known as a spiny seahorse.

A long snouted seahorse
The long snouted seahorse is native to UK waters (Mark Parry/Ocean Conservation Trust)

Mr Parry said: “After seven years of working in seagrass conservation for the Ocean Conservation Trust, it was humbling to experience this rare seahorse sighting, as it highlights the significance of what we’re trying to do with our seagrass restoration work.”

Long snouted seahorses are native to UK waters, but their numbers have been in decline in part because of the destruction of seagrass.

The OCT has been working to restore seagrass meadows off the south-west coast of Great Britain, with the aim of protecting marine wildlife.

A long snouted seahorse
The Ocean Conservation Trust is working to restore seahorses’ natural seagrass habitats (Mark Parry/Ocean Conservation Trust)

Mr Parry told BBC News: “I think the biggest problem is people aren’t aware of its significance, they aren’t aware of its location and they’re not aware that even small impacts in our day-to-day lives can impact that really fragile coastal habitat.”

He added that in seven years and about 700 dives he had “never seen one of these animals”.

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