Project Seahorse

MPA, banca and guardhouse in Philippines

ZSL’s Dr Heather Koldewey and Amanda Vincent founded Project Seahorse in 1996 to combat threats to seahorses across the globe. These unusual fish are vulnerable to over exploitation for traditional medicine, tourism trade and many types of fishing. We have been carrying out surveys and research to provide a scientific basis for changing regulations on seahorse harvesting, and setting up marine protected areas to protect seahorse habitat. 

Why seahorses need protection

Seahorses are charismatic symbols of marine habitats, but sadly face serious threats. Every year, millions of seahorses are stripped from the sea by trawlers and fishers, while their habitats are polluted and destroyed. Seahorses are also flagship species, charismatic symbols of the seagrasses, mangroves, coral reefs, estuaries and seaweeds where they make their homes. They are important predators in the ecosystems in which they live, and are also valuable commodities for humans.  

Key achievements and goals

Project Seahorse was co-founded by ZSL in 1996 to combat these global threats. By working to protect seahorses and their habitats, we are also working to ensure marine ecosystems are healthy and well-managed. We produced the world’s first analyses of the damaging effects of harvesting seahorses, and guided a landmark agreement among the 175 CITES nations to regulate international seahorse trade. More recently, Project Seahorse has been completing global conservation status assessments for a number of seahorse and pipefish species for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and building capacity to support the effective implementation of CITES regulations. Our citizen science project iSeahorse continues to gather seahorse sightings from around the world, helping us to better understand and protect these intriguing animals. In the Philippines, iSeahorse has confirmed the presence of three seahorse species that had not previously been recorded in the country. Project Seahorse’s work saving seahorses and marine habitats has been recognised with many international awards and honours, including the first ever Whitley Award in Animal Conservation in 1994.

Get involved

Project Seahorse depends on the support of our partners and dedicated individuals to carry out its vital work. With your help, we will embark on another wave of conservation ventures to protect marine ecosystems.

Find out how you can get involved to help seahorses worldwide

ZSL's other work with seahorses

In April 2008, new legislation was brought into effect protecting British seahorses under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. We have had great success breeding these British seahorse species in our ZSL London Zoo Aquarium. Find out about seahorse breeding at the ZSL London Zoo Aquarium.

iSeahorse logo


iSeahorse is a citizen science project where the public can help to build knowledge of Seahorses and support our...

More information

People involved

ZSL’s Heather Koldewey runs Project Seahorse

Partners and sponsors

Kindly funded by: Shedd Aquarium; Guylian; BBC Wildlife Fund; Oceanario Lisboa; Selfridges; Berlin Zoo Aquarium; Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, Environment Agency; University of British Columbia; University of Hong Kong; Synchronicity Earth; IUCN.