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  • 11/12/2019 10:35 AM

    Rare seahorse found in Sydney’s working port

    One of the smallest — and rarest — sea creatures in Sydney Harbour has made its home alongside some of the biggest ships at Glebe Island — and now work is underway to protect this important resident.

    A rare species of seahorse has been discovered living among the ships at the working port of Glebe Island in Sydney Harbour.

    The surprising discovery of White’s seahorse — just 16 centimetres from head to tail — living in the port was made by an aquatic ecologist during an environmental assessment of the area.

    Image: White’s seahorse is a rare species found around Sydney Harbour

    Although found throughout Sydney Harbour, populations of White’s seahorse in NSW have declined in recent years leading to the Fisheries Scientific Committee to list the species as endangered.

    The underwater field survey was part of an aquatic ecology assessment by Port Authority of New South Wales ahead of maintenance to one of Glebe Island’s wharves.

    Now, Port Authority will work with ecologists and contractors to find ways to protect the seahorses’ presence in the port.

    Image: Spot the seahorse — a well-camouflaged specimen at one of Glebe Island's wharfs

    Ahead of any works, a silt curtain will be installed to protect a nearby rock habitat which already provides a suitable home for the seahorses. With this habitat suitably protected and under a permit obtained from the Department of Primary Industries, aquatic ecologists will dive to find and relocate any seahorses living in the upcoming maintenance area to their new home. 

    Glebe Island is a working port in the heart of Sydney Harbour and is located next to the White Bay Cruise Terminal in Balmain.

    Other fish monitored in the water around the port included eastern hula, pufferfish, bream, luderick, mullet, glassy sprat, black-fish, bat-fish, fan belly leatherjacket, pygmy leatherjacket, oyster blennies and gobies. A school of kingfish was also found in the locality.

    White’s seahorse

    White’s seahorse, or hippocampus whitei, is one of four seahorse species found in NSW waters.

    Endemic to Australia, White’s seahorse lives in shallow temperate waters down to a maximum depth of about 25 m.

    Like other seahorses, White’s seahorse is an expert at camouflage, able to change its colours while the male of the species brooding the eggs and giving birth to live young.

    Named after John White, Surgeon General to the First Fleet, White’s seahorse was first recorded in modern science in 1855.

    Find out more about White’s seahorse


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