Published On 02 July 2019 at 05:00 PM
In a first for Sydney, Sutherland Shire Council, Sea Dragon Diving Co. and students from Grays Point Public School have joined forces to undertake a secret mission to save our seahorses.
An endangered species, the Hippocampus whitei, more commonly known as the ‘Sydney Seahorse’, has taken up residence on netted swimming enclosures managed by Sutherland Shire Council. The seahorses prefer the nets to other available natural habitats like sea-grass and weed beds as they are a suitable habitat for camouflage and a great source of food.
However, the time has come to repair and replace some of these swimming nets, so Council has implemented new environmental strategies to protect these precious sea creatures during repair and replacement works.
With the help of specialist marine contractors, Sea Dragon Diving Co., Council is installing artificial seahorse habitats called Seahorse Hotels as a conservation measure, to temporarily re-house the seahorses during the works and to help boost local numbers.
Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce, said this project was ground breaking and important for the preservation of this marine species.
“Council is committed to the conservation of this endangered species,” Mayor Pesce said.
“By providing a temporary home while their habitat is being repaired, we can ensure they are protected and the impact on the seahorse population is minimised during essential net repair works.
“It’s also a great opportunity for our kids at Grays Point Public School to be involved in such an exciting and engaging project.”
Sea Dragon Diving Co. has worked with the students to build the Seahorse Hotels. The hotels are made from aluminium frames and the students have attached netting to simulate a similar environment to the swimming nets.
“Getting school kids involved helps educate the next generation about the importance of marine environment, conservation efforts and also gives them experience with project development and problem solving,” said Carl Fallon, Director of Sea Dragon Diving Co.
“The decline in Sydney Seahorse numbers has been directly associated with their natural habitat loss so it’s vital that we increase community awareness about the endangered species and help to protect their habitat.”
Grays Point Public School Principal Narelle Betts Smith said the students were incredibly excited to be involved.
“The students have been involved with creating the Seahorse Hotels since day one of this project and they’re very excited to see them installed,” Mrs Betts Smith said.
“They were so motivated by the project they decided to create a documentary about the Seahorse Hotels and the relocation of the seahorses to share with other schools.”
The students hope to enter their documentary into the Film by the Sea Short Film Festival in October 2019.
Sutherland Shire Council will continue to work with Sea Dragon Diving Co. and Grays Point Public School students to monitor the Seahorse Hotels and their special guests.