Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Friday, 12 February 2010

Seahorse breeding success at Anglesey sea zoo

Sea Horses (picture: Aled Jones)
The native sea horses can be found off the coast of Wales

Native seahorses have been successfully bred in captivity at a site better known as a tourist location on Anglesey.

The Anglesey Sea Zoo's latest owner, Dylan Evans, said he wanted to put more emphasis on conservation of native species at the Menai Strait attraction.

Mr Evans said the visitor side of the business was essential to fund this area of the zoo's work.

Seahorses are often sold as souvenirs or used as alternative medicines.

"Historically the zoo has bred some seahorses, and we thought we'd give the native ones a go," said Mr Evans.

Only male sea horses become pregnant
Most sea horse species are monogamous
Sea horses can change colour to blend in their surroundings

He said that despite initially breeding hundreds of the creatures, none of them survived, until this year when 150 seahorses thrived.

Mr Evans said this was due to the dedication and work of staff at the zoo, which is on the banks of the Menai Strait near Brynsiencyn.

Sea Horses (Picture: Aled Jones, Galwad Cynnar BBC Radio Cymru)
Sea horses in a tank at the zoo

"Only four other places in Britain have been able to breed them," he added.

There is a huge international trade in seahorses, which are sold as curiosities and aquarium pets.

However, seahorses are mostly landed to be used in traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean medicines.

It is unknown how many seahorses there are world-wide.

The book 'Sea Fishes of Wales' notes that only long-snouted seahorses have so far been recorded from the Welsh coastline.

They are resident all year round, and are usually spotted by sharp-eyed drivers searching amongst seaweed.

Although uncommon the long-snouted seahorse is relatively widespread.

It has been recorded all around the south coast of Britain, and Wales, the south coast of Ireland and as far north as Orkney and Shetland - but not in between.

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