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Natura Algarve

The Sea horses of Ria Formosa

21.06.2014 // Natura Algarve

Cavalos Marinhos

Seahorses are particularly interesting and peculiar fish. Their singularities include the unique shape of their bodies, they’re the slowest among all fishes due to the uncommon way they swimvertical way - taking up to 4minutes to swim 1 meter and also their reproductive biology since it’s the male that incubates the eggs.

 

Currently there are about 35 species of Seahorses with a vast worldwide distribution. Most of these animals are small sized with the largest specimens measuring a maximum length of 36cm. The smallest measuring only 4cm is known as the Dwarf Seahorse.

 

Ria Formosa has the largest community of Seahorses in the world. Seahorses are an endangered species because they are used mostly in Asia for several purposes such as gastronomy, lucky charms and alternative medicine.

 

Initially composed of more than 2000 individuals this was a pleasant discovery for the local scientific community because nobody knew that the lagoon system of the Ria Formosa sheltered the largest colony of these delicate creatures worldwide.

 

This huge number is due to the fact of the optimal and unique natural conditions provided by the Ria Formosa for the development of the species such as calm waters favourable to a creature that doesn’t swim very well and the vast marine prairies that provide shelter and food supply.

 

As years went by it has been found that unfortunately this delicate species which is protected has diminished its numbers in the Ria Formosa. Human action and the decreasing number of marine plants have been determinant factors for their disappearance.

 

Another aspect to consider is the fact that the male is the one that incubates the eggs and researchers believe that this animal has one single partner for life which also can have a huge influence over the reproductive process of the species.

Come enjoy a wonderful boat tour in Ria Formosa and try to find among the channels of this Nature Park one of these peculiar animals.

 

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