Diana Rolf was walking with her dog on the beach of Vlieland when she saw a seahorse. She called De Noordwester Waddencentrum en Zeeaquarium to report it.
“It was still alive, as soon as I had it in my hand it started to swarm, so I kept it in the water to keep it wet”, she tells EditieNL. The seahorse was picked up and taken to the aquarium.
The animal is doing well under circumstances. “I got word last night that he had eaten something in the aquarium, and this morning I got a picture tagged. He’s now holding his tail to things in the aquarium,” says Diana.
This confirms employee Lars Kuijpens. “It is going well in itself”, says Kuijpens. “He was quite calm in the beginning, he ate something and that went well.” According to him, it is not often that a live seahorse is brought to the aquarium. “We also had one a while ago, but it didn’t make it. Maybe more will be found, but that is not known to us. They do occur here, but not very often.”
Bag with salt water
A living seahorse was also found on the beach on Ameland last weekend. “The finder had filled a dog poop bag with salt water and put the seahorse in it, and then drove to us as soon as possible”, says William Beijaard of Nature Center Ameland, where the seahorse is now in an aquarium.
The aquarium worker acclimatized the seahorse and placed the animal with the other seahorses later that evening. “It attached itself directly to the seaweed, which is a good sign”, says Beijaard. Looking at the seahorse’s behavior, it seems to be going well.
Nature Center Ameland has more seahorses in the aquarium, but they were, for example, bycatch from fishing vessels. “We’ve never had a live in from the beach before.”
Ecomare on Texel also has a seahorse since last weekend. Zookeeper Jarco Havermans also found a living seahorse on the beach of Texel on Saturday. “Actually, live ones never wash up”, says Havermans. “It is rare. Four reports were made in the second half of 2020. Five have already been found alive in the first weeks of this year.”
That is striking, says the animal keeper. “It can hardly be a coincidence anymore.”
The exact reason why the animals washed up last weekend is difficult to pinpoint, but according to Havermans, climate change also plays a role in it. “Animals from temperate and subtropical seas can survive with us in the summer. But in the winter they are surprised because it gets too cold for them,” he explains.
In the wild, seahorses can live in waters up to nine degrees. So it’s too cold for them here now. “They do live here, but in the winter they look more south. They are now outside their habitat for the winter.”
The animal found is the only seahorse in Ecomare. The animal is not doing so well yet. Havermans: “He doesn’t eat yet. We feed him very small shrimps. But what you see is that the digestive system goes out before they die, it is difficult to get them back on.”
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