Longleat in Wiltshire have revealed a new marine feature showcasing the two different types of seahorse found in British waters.
Two colonies of spiny and short snouted seahorses were bred as part of a conservation programme in Portugal and can now be seen on display in their new home at Longleat.
The spiny seahorse, which is covered in spine-like appendages along its head and back, and the short-snouted seahorse are now believed to be permanent residents in UK waters off the south coast and around the Channel Islands.
Longleat’s Christopher Burr said: “Seahorses have proved an enduring fascination since Classical times and remain just as popular today. Our new column-shaped display allows people to get up close to these amazing fish for the very first time here.
“We’re hoping some of the new arrivals may be pregnant and we will soon be looking after a new generation of these graceful creatures.
The seahorse is unique in the animal kingdom as it is the male rather than the female which carries the babies and gives birth to them via a special brood pouch on their stomach. The female seahorse lays her eggs in the male’s pouch, which he then fertilises and incubates until they are ready to emerge.
There are approximately 47 species of seahorse in the wild, although many are now under threat from a variety of sources including loss of habitat, pollution, the souvenir trade and traditional Far East medicine.
To find out more about visiting the seahorses at Longleat go to www.longleat.co.uk