I don't usually
give my work titles other than to name the creatures depicted, however
I was inspired to title my single Seahorse piece after reading this
report from the Seahorse Trust.
Hope the Juvenile female Spiny
Report by Neil Garrick Maidment
The Seahorse Trust
Imagine our horror on Saturday when
we got to South Beach in Studland bay to see 63 boats already on
site by 9.30, (there were 143, 2 hours later and they had been coming
and going all the time and so the anchoring incidences were amount
o hundreds of anchors dropping into this fragile site) including
one anchor directly over where we saw Hope the Seahorse 2 weeks
It was with a heavy heart we entered the water and started to look
for her and apart from a massive anchor and very long anchor chain
there was no sign of her. This was an absolute disaster. The first
seahorse in 2 years at South Beach gone, possibly crushed by an
Despite all of this, we continued with our survey, even though the
boats ignored our SMB's and surface divers warning of divers below
and coming very close to us (apparently we were in 'their water'
and had no right to be there, funny how we have always said that
Studland Bay should be open to all and yet they want us gone!!!)
one even coming within 2 metres of us. They did not know how many
divers were underwater and so deliberately put lives at risk, even
though we had put every safety aspect in place.
As we carried on with the survey working in two groups, time was
ticking on and I was starting to think she had gone. [To find seahorses
takes a great deal of patience, determination, having your eye in
and a certain amount of good luck] As I was working my way along
through the seagrass I came across a patch of brown spikey algae
and saw the very top of her head, no bigger than a centimetre squared
but very distinctive with the coronet and spines sticking up. I
could not believe it, this was well over 100 yards away from where
she was before and there she was looking tiny but safe and sound
and had survived the anchor dropping onto her 'patch'.
This was amazing news and the rest of the team joined me and we
went about our work of photographing her and marking the location,
checking health and recording data etc.
People often ask me how do I know it is the same seahorse, well
that is simple, over the years we developed a technique of photo
identification to show individual spots and marks on the head and
these are checked against our database.
After measuring her and taking the photographs we moved on happy
to know this little seahorse had somehow managed to survive the
onslaught of all these boats but we were also worried because she
is on her own. She does not have a mate and despite intensive searching
we cannot find another seahorse on the site.
Is Hope the loneliest seahorse in Britain?, I truly hope not but
it does give further emphasise to make sure Studland Bay becomes
a Marine Conservation Zone and is protected for the future, so hopefully
if she survives Hope will help this unique site become recolonised.