Three proud dads gave birth to exactly 337 baby seahorses at SIMS in November.
The adorable broods of baby seahorses, or “ponies”, will help University of Technology Sydney honours student Scott McCormack study the effects of climate change on the White’s Seahorse or Hippocampus whitei.
Mr McCormack said they were the same species snorkellers and scuba divers saw around Manly. “They live around Sydney and all the way to Nelson Bay. They’re the same species you see around the swimming nets in Manly. However, their large habitat doesn’t mean they’ve got a robust population. Even though you find them along the coast, they don’t travel much, they’re monogamous and they don’t move far for food so it makes them vulnerable to changes in their environment,” Mr McCormack said. “They can’t migrate if the environment changes.”
Mr McCormack will study the seahorses in a manipulated environment mimicking the current spring temperature, the current summer temperature, an extreme summer and an extreme summer plus two degrees. “This is the climate prediction for the next 50 to 100 years,” Mr Mccormack said. “It won’t harm them, but we’ll be able to verify how different temperatures affect ventilation rates, behaviour, feeding and routine metabolic rate.”
Mr Mccormack said there was little research done into seahorses and climate change and there was not enough data to determine whether they were threatened in Australia. He is also studying a wild population of the seahorses in Manly.