Two volunteer divers found the animal in Shakespeare Bay, southwest of the harbour, in a depth of about 15 metres. Video taken by the divers of the three-inch long animal confirmed it to be a short-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus), the same as that reported in the Thames Estuary last month.
Seasearch diver and Marine Officer for Kent Wildlife Trust, Bryony Chapman, said: “We have had very occasional reports of seahorses washed up around the Kent coast, but we believe this is the first sighting and the first film of these elusive creatures in their natural environment in this area, so the team is very excited.”
The find follows a recent announcement that short-snouted and spiny seahorses are being given special protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. There is so little information about these animals that it is not clear how endangered they may be.
Kent Seasearch is run by Kent Wildlife Trust and is part of a national Seasearch programme for volunteer divers to help protect marine wildlife by recording information about habitats and species on their dives. This information will help those responsible for marine nature conservation to develop strategies which protect the UK’s marine wildlife.