The Knysna seahorse (H. capensis Boulenger 1900) is endemic to the southern coast of South Africa and more specifically to only three estuaries (Knysna, Swartvlei and Keurbooms estuaries). The seahorse has become an iconic symbol for the community of Knysna. It has been listed as Endangered by the IUCN due to its limited range and habitat vulnerability (Bell et al., 2003). Other factors which contribute to its endangered status include its small population size as well as its vulnerability to natural and anthropogenic disturbances (Lockyear et al., 2006).
The Knysna Seahorse Status Project was established in 2013 out of the need to re-assess the distribution and abundance of the Knysna seahorse. The first phase of the project is based within Thesen Islands Marina. The study entails a detailed survey of the seahorse in the marina in order to understand the role newly created marina habitats play in the distribution of the species.
Initial population studies conducted by Bell et al. (2003) and Lockyear et al. (2006) focused on the seahorse distribution in the larger Knysna estuary and was conducted in 2000 and 2001 respectively. The new study aims to include newly created waterways, such as Thesen Islands Marina, to understand what habitats are created by such developments and how estuarine species utilize these habitats.
The project will form part of a PhD thesis through Rhodes University under the mentorship of Prof Allanson.
Mr Mike Davies is an active volunteer in the project and assists in the survey fieldwork.
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