Possible Futures for Sea Horses

Sea Horse Disappearance
     Over the last five years sea horse populations have been dwindling.  They are becoming increasingly popular for Chinese medicine practices, display in private homes, and for curious consumers (Vincent 1997).

Chinese Medicine
     The use of sea horses for tradition Chinese medicine takes the lives of about 20 million sea horses per year.  They are used to treat a variety of ailments including asthma, arteriosclerosis, incontinence, impotence, thyroid disorders, skin ailments, broken bones, and heart disease.  The use of sea horses for medicine is no longer limited to the Chinese either.  It is becoming popular in other Asian nations as well.  However,  although sea horses are popular for their medicinal value and are claimed to be effective treatments, no research has been done to prove if they actually are effective treatments (Vincent 1997).
Ornamental Display
     Keeping ornamental fish has become the second most popular hobby in North America (first is photography) (Kaiser, et. al 1997).  Most of the sea horses sold for use as ornamental are juveniles and die within a year (Vincent 1997).  However, raising the sea horses for ornamental use has led to research about the ideal environments for breeding sea horses.  This research has shown that though environmental conditions did not affect spawning intervals or brood size, the photo period had a significant effect on juvenile length.  When the males were kept in 20 hours of light and 4 in darkness, their broods' average length was significantly larger than those kept in other light conditions.
     Sea horses are becoming increasingly popular as souvenirs.  People will buy them dried as key chains or decorations (Vincent 1997).