Protect Severely Threatened Dwarf Seahorse Habitat

Target: Commissioner of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Kenneth W. Wright

Goal: To protect the dwarf seahorse from habitat loss and growing environmental degradation in the Gulf of Mexico.

The dwarf seahorse is the smallest seahorse living in US waters, measuring in at just an inch tall. This species resides among seagrass beds in the Gulf of Mexico as well as some portions of the Caribbean Sea.

Unfortunately, these animals have been suffering from a continued population decline as documented by the Center for Biological Diversity. The reduced numbers being found within Florida’s estuaries and bays have given rise to a growing movement to list this species as endangered, an unfortunate result of habitat loss and pollution, especially within the Gulf of Mexico.

While much of the blame for wildlife concerns in this region can be rightfully tied to the tragedy of the 2010 BP oil spill, this is only a fraction of the underlying problem. Since 1950, Florida’s seagrass beds have declined by over fifty percent. Seagrass is a critical component to the dwarf seahorse’s habitat as they are not physically capable of surviving long-term in open water.

Habitat loss may be the most critical problem, but it is not the lone issue for these animals. Within oceanic conditions, smaller species tend to be far more susceptible to changes in their environmental conditions— as a result of this, oceanic acidification is having a tremendous impact on dwarf seahorse numbers as well.

This combination of factors, which include localized pollution in the Gulf of Mexico, habitat loss from destruction of seagrass beds, and the lowering PH of the world’s oceans from increases in carbon dioxide are having a tremendous toll upon the dwarf seahorse.

In order to protect this aquatic treasure, whose placement upon the endangered species is likely to occur when a July 3rd decision is rendered, attention must be given to the environment in which is resides.

Protect the seagrass habitat and work to reduce pollution in the Gulf of Mexico before species like the dwarf seahorse are lost forever.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Commissioner Wright,

At a mere one inch tall, the smallest seahorse species in US waters, the dwarf seahorse, is an extremely vulnerable species whose population has taken a frightening downturn. A study conducted by the Center for Biological Diversity noted that these animals have now reached the point where an official endangered species designation is warranted. This decline stems from several environmental factors which must be addressed in order to protect the dwarf seahorse from extinction.

These animals appear to be hardest hit in the Gulf of Mexico, where pollution and habitat loss have taken a significant toll. It is easy to place blame for issues in the Gulf of Mexico solely upon the 2010 BP oil spill, and while it has had a tremendous impact, it is not the sole issue responsible for the decline in dwarf seahorse populations.

Pollution in the gulf comes from many sources, and smaller species such as the dwarf seahorse can be especially vulnerable. The global reduction in the PH level of our oceans, known as oceanic acidification, which stems from increased carbon dioxide emissions, is extremely difficult for more sensitive species such as the dwarf seahorse to adapt to.

Since 1950, Florida has seen its offshore seagrass beds in bays and estuaries decreased by fifty percent. This seagrass is vital to the dwarf seahorse as a habitat; its destruction must be stopped in order to preserve this species.

I urge you to protect the dwarf seahorse by preserving what remains of Florida’s seagrass beds while imposing greater protective measures against pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. Stop this destruction of dwarf seahorse habitat before it is too late.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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