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Year of the Horse Kicks Off with Seahorse Conservation

Photo Credit: Dr Lynne Parenti from SMNH
Photo Credit: Dr Lynne Parenti from SMNH

Dr. Tse-Lynn Loh, Postdoctoral Research Associate
John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago
in partnership with Project Seahorse (University of British Columbia & Zoological Society of London)

I’m writing from foggy and drizzly Haiphong, where I’ve been meeting with our country hosts at the Research Institute for Marine Fisheries (RIMF) and organizing the logistics for the next few weeks of fieldwork in Vietnam. On Saturday, I was invited by RIMF to join their staff on a roadtrip, visiting a series of temples and pagodas to ask for blessings for the New Year. It has been a pleasure interacting with the researchers here, especially the younger staff who are so enthusiastic and dedicated to their work.

Earlier this month I was in Penang, Malaysia attending the Asian Fish Biodiversity Conference, where in addition to my research presentation, I was given a 40 minute slot to talk about iSeahorse. Just before the conference, I was fortunate to be invited by researchers from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and Universiti Sains Malaysia to join them on sampling the mangrove habitats in northwest Malaysia. In the photo, I’m holding a dog-faced water snake that was rescued from a net by one of the USM students. There were no seahorses in the water, but we did see them in the tanks of an aquarium fish collector and as dried specimens on a trawl boat, so we have some distribution data for seahorses around Penang. I finally got my first glimpse of seahorses in the field when I joined our local collaborator Save Our Seahorses Malaysia on their first ever volunteer survey of 2014, and I spotted two of the seven seahorses observed! The boatman found four, and I’m trying to work my way up to his level.  It was a great way to kick off the Year of the Horse!