Target: National Marine Fisheries Service
Goal: Protect the dwarf seahorse as an endangered species
Swiftly declining numbers of the dwarf seahorse have caught the attention of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMF), which is now mulling over including it in the Endangered Species Act. Spurred by a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity in April 2011, the NMF will soon make an official decision on the issue and has offered open reception to public comments and discussion. Firm, vocal, urgent voices are needed to make sure the NMF follows through and provides the dwarf seahorse the protection it so desperately needs.
These small creatures live solely in the shallow seagrass regions of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and off the eastern coast of Florida. Since 1950, over fifty percent of Florida’s seagrass habitat has disappeared. In some of these coastal regions, that number is almost one hundred percent. Many factors have contributed to the dwarf seahorse population decline and, as with any aspect of the natural world, they are all linked in an interdependent cycle of ecological cause and effect.
The cycle begins (and ends) with the extensive loss of their seagrass habitat. Loss of this habitat comes as the result of damage from marine vessels and heavy water pollution. This water degradation is the product of, among other things, a warming planet and oil spills, including the massive Deepwater Horizon spill. Top it all off with vast over-harvesting for aquarium trade and traditional medicines, and the it’s extraordinary these small creatures remain at all.
However, their remarkable resilience will be simply an endearing memory of an extinguished species if these trends are not addressed immediately. The ebb and flow of their ecosystem is increasingly sullied by intrusive human endeavors and without inclusion in the Endangered Species Act, and the support of enforced protection measures, the dwarf seahorse may not ever recover. Stop this ecological violence and demand that the National Marine Fisheries Service include the dwarf seahorse in the Endangered Species Act.
Dear National Marine Fisheries Service,
I am writing to call for the inclusion of the dwarf seahorse in the Endangered Species Act. In a commendable show of concern, and in response to the Center for Biological Diversity, you have agreed to discuss the merit of such a decision.
Located exclusively in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and off the eastern coast of Florida, the dwarf seahorse lives in the shallow waters where forests of seagrass are present. Unfortunately, these havens are becoming more and more compromised as water pollution, boat inflicted damage and climate change disrupt the natural ecological balance.
The tons of oil that spilled into these waters in 2010 only exacerbated this already alarming trend. Urgent action is needed to protect these unique creatures. Stop this relentless march to extinction by including the dwarf seahorse in the Endangered Species Act.
[Your Name Here]