SEA Life Loch Lomond became the first aquarium in Scotland earlier this month to successfully rear big-bellied seahorses.
Australian big-bellied seahorses are one of the biggest seahorses in the world’s oceans reaching around 30cm in height and, like all species of seahorse, are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, said Sea Life.
However, teams at the aquarium reared two babies through the critical first months of their lives and the year-old juveniles are now thriving.
Staff hope they will soon be ready to join the adult seahorses in the main tank.
As well as being a first for Scotland, the seahorses form part of Sea Life centres’ captive breeding programme to help stock educational displays across the global Sea Life network.
‘A recent investigation revealed that as many as 120 million seahorses every year are being taken from the wild for the Chinese traditional medicine trade, while others end up in souvenir shops,’ said Loch Lomond’s Kirsty Morrison.
‘Our displays help raise awareness of these problems and foster support for efforts to curb them.’
It is also hoped that captive reared stocks may in the future help replenish the most severely depleted wild populations.
Sea Life Loch Lomond is also home to lined seahorses, as well as many other rare creatures, including Scotland’s only giant green sea turtle.