Diver spots seahorse so rare that wildlife licence is required to even seek it out

A wildlife expert was delighted when he went on a dive and spotted a seahorse so rare you need a licence to seek it out and photograph it.

Steve Trewhella, 55, came across the small, green Spiny Seahorse, clinging to an underwater plant with its tail off the Dorset coast.

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The seahorse, known scientifically as Hippocampus guttulatus, is protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act, and requires a marine licence to photograph or even to seek it out.

It is also unlawful to disturb them in their place of shelter under Marine Management Organisation laws.

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Wildlife author and photographer Steve, from Weymouth, Dorset, who operates under a wildlife licence, said: “It’s always a treat to see these iconic animals.

“I have studied and photographed them for over a decade, spending in excess of 300 hours in the water with them, observing their habits and behaviour.”

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Steve added: “Recent years have seen a drop in sightings in Dorset, with a number of dead, stranded ones being washed up on a number of beaches.

“They and the seagrass homes are under immense pressure from anchor damage, fishing, and coastal development.

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“It is essential that we nurture and protect such habitats and species with Marine Conservation Zones.”

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