Seahorse used as boost to virility caught on film
October 11 2012 Lewis Smith
Millions of Chinese men have swallowed them in the belief they improve virility but few people have seen West African seahorses in the wild.
Video footage by researchers trying to find ways of making the trade in the seahorses sustainable has now been released to provide a rare opportunity to see the animal in its natural habitat off the coast of Senegal.
The seahorse, Hippocampus algiricus, is an ingredient in a variety of traditional Chinese tonics used to treat a range of complaints and is reputed to boost virility but little is known about how it lives.
Kate West, of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada, is researching the growing world trade in seahorses and spotted the West African species while on a local fishing boat off Senegal.
“It’s shocking that so little is known about the West African seahorse when the amount of trade officially documented is in excess of a tonne,” she said. “This seahorse is one of two native species caught locally for export around the world.”
The study is part of Project Seahorse, a joint investigation by the Zoological Society of London, Imperial College London and UBC. Findings show the number of West African seahorses has risen dramatically in recent years with about 600,000 being caught and exported annually.
Dr Amanda Vincent, of UBC, co-founded Project Seahorse and said: “In recent years, the West African seahorse has become highly sought, along with many other seahorse species. Our fieldwork — the first ever study of this species — is revealing the fishing and trade pressures they face, and how populations can be sustained.”
Go to Fish2fork Facebook page to see the footage.
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