Seahorses washed up on Dorset beaches

Spiny seahorse at Studland
First find reported on 29 March: spiny seahorse at Studland © Rene Smith

Caption: Area damaged by fire and sand lizard on affected area at Upton Heath © Simon Cripps

Environment, Latest News, Top Story, Wildlife | Posted: Thursday, April 18th, 2019 at 12:49 pm | return to news

Unprecedented number of seahorses washed up on Dorset beaches

Thanks to social media postings, Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) has been made aware of an unusual amount of stranded seahorses being washed up on Dorset beaches within a couple of weeks of one another.

Spiny seahorse at Studland
First find reported on 29 March: spiny seahorse at Studland © Rene Smith

Caption: First find reported on 29 March: spiny seahorse at Studland © Rene Smith

Rene Smith made the first report from Studland on 29 March when she picked up a small, dried spiny seahorse on the beach.  This was followed by others at Worbarrow Bay, near Kimmeridge, Greenhill Beach in Weymouth and Chesil Beach at Portland.

The finds include examples of the two native species: spiny and short-snouted seahorses.

DWT’s Marine Awareness Officer, Julie Hatcher said, “To have so many seahorses washing up in Dorset in such a short time is unheard of and we are very grateful to the people who found them for publicising their finds. While there is no obvious reason for the deaths it certainly indicates that Dorset has a good population of seahorses along the coast.

“All the seahorses were small individuals, born last year, that would have matured as adults this summer.”

Spiny seahorse at Weymouth
Stranded seahorse © Gail (Frogpie)

Hatcher explained that seahorses inhabit a number of different types of seabed, including shallow-water seagrass meadows close inshore and added, “It may be that they struggled to find enough food early in the year or were caught out by some rough sea conditions and accidentally washed up on the beach. We are keen to hear of other records that might give us a clue as to the cause.”

Several sites in Dorset are known to have seahorses, including Studland Bay where both species have been found to breed. Both Studland Bay and Worbarrow Bay are currently being considered as possible Marine Conservation Zones, a type of wildlife reserve, which will enable those areas to be managed for the benefit of seahorses and the variety of other marine life that live there. The decision on whether these sites will be designated is expected in the next few weeks.

Report your marine life sightings on Twitter @DWTMarine @DorsetWildlife, facebook/dorsetwildlife, Instagram/DorsetWildlife or let us know on email at

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