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Seahorse Poaching (again!)

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  • Offline TamiW
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Seahorse Poaching (again!)

« posted: 4 years ago »
I get sad every time I see one of these stories in the news - it looks like there is problems with seahorse poaching in South Africa. South Africa is home to one of the few endangered seahorses, the Knysna seahorse H. capensis. It doesn't say they were targeted, but it's hard to believe they weren't.

"Yesterday SARS reported that employees came across 279 dried seahorses valued at about R414 000 last month. The parcel was destined for Hong Kong.

According to marine biologist Maryke Musson, seahorses are uncommon along the South African coast, apart from the critically endangered Knysna seahorse.

The creatures are commonly used to treat heart ailments and cholesterol in China and the east."
  • H. erectus, H. comes, H. kuda, H. zosterae, Doryrhamphus excisus, Bryx dunckeri, Corythoichthys flavofasciatus
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  • Offline ejbaer
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Re: Seahorse Poaching (again!)

« Reply #1 posted: 4 years ago »
Is there even any scientific evidence that they have any effectiveness against these problems?  With so many other natural products out there to support these problems why a live threatened animal.....sad!
  • Offline TamiW
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Re: Seahorse Poaching (again!)

« Reply #2 posted: 3 years ago »
A spam bot brought this to the surface, but it also brought to my attention I never responded. That's a good question. There actually does appear to be some scientific evidence that there are some things it's useful for. There are a few problems though:

1) Most of it comes from Asian countries that utilize seahorses in medicine. They haven't, as far as I know, been published in what in the west we'd consider reputable. BUT! That doesn't necessarily mean it's not. It does make a lot of people suspicious of the quality of studies though, for the same reason people are suspicious of studies that cigarette smoke doesn't cause cancer put out by the tobacco industry.

2) "Reputable" labs by western definition are probably not going to test the efficacy of whole animals as a treatment, so no one will replicate the studies that show positive benefits.

3) Seahorses are high in a few things that might be beneficial, I believe zinc is one of them. I would guess based on diet they'd be high in omega3s as well. So there may actually be some benefit to consuming them, but not necessarily any that can't be obtained through individual supplements or at least through sustainable and regulated trade.

4) Traditional Chinese Medicine theories are frequently based on things like assuming attributes of the animal consumed, so scientific studies are probably not really of interest to many of the purchasers of various animal parts.

That doesn't mean I support it, especially not smuggled seahorses; I think that all fisheries are under extreme pressure by overfishing, so any smuggling is a pretty worrisome problem. BUT, I am also torn, because much of the objection to use of seahorses is western-centric, and research from the east does tend to be written off as false without a fair assessment.
  • H. erectus, H. comes, H. kuda, H. zosterae, Doryrhamphus excisus, Bryx dunckeri, Corythoichthys flavofasciatus
It's all about the snick!
  • Offline TamiW
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Re: Seahorse Poaching (again!)

« Reply #3 posted: 3 years ago »
This is a paper that seems to be more conventionally published, though I'm not familiar enough with the publication to say if it's reputable or not:
http://www.febsletters.org/article/S0014-5793(03)00855-X/abstract]Molecular profile of the unique species of traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese seahorse (Hippocampus kuda Bleeker)

Quote
Abstract
A cDNA library of male Chinese seahorse (Hippocampus kuda Bleeker) was constructed to investigate the molecular profile of seahorse as one of the most famous traditional Chinese medicine materials, and to reveal immunological and physiological mechanisms of seahorse as one of the most primitive vertebrates at molecular level. A total of 3372 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) consisting of 1911 unique genes (345 clusters and 1566 singletons) were examined in the present study. Identification of the genes related to immune system, paternal brooding and physiological regulation provides not only valuable insights into the molecular mechanism of immune system in teleost fish but also plausible explanations for pharmacological activities of Chinese seahorse. Furthermore, the occurrence of high prevalent C-type lectins suggested that a lectin-complement pathway might exert a more dominant function in the innate immune system of teleost than mammal. Carbohydrate recognition domain (CRD) without a collagen-like region in the lectins of seahorse was likely an ancient characteristic of lectins similar to invertebrates.

I don't have access to the full paper, but it's an interesting thought. Seahorses have a screwy* immune system, so who knows, there could be something to what they're suggesting here. But it's hard to test, and would be hard to understand how it could confer benefits to humans. That doesn't eliminate the possibility though.

*technical terminology.
  • H. erectus, H. comes, H. kuda, H. zosterae, Doryrhamphus excisus, Bryx dunckeri, Corythoichthys flavofasciatus
It's all about the snick!

Re: Seahorse Poaching (again!)

« Reply #4 posted: 3 years ago »
I ate a seahorse a day for a week, they were old ones all ready dead, my stomach felt sick and I never felt good at all, The old guy who cuts my hair is from Vietnam and wants to put them in wine for a year and then drink it, no hope it is in there head that this works, why do we not just care about the U.S.A. these little fish people are everywhere on the east coast lets help our own, China will kill them all we cant stop that what about ours?
  • Erectus, my tanks are 65 degrees I have H.abdominalis pair want to breed them I am interested in cold water species