Love is in the Water
A novel fish exchange has seen some of nature´s greatest lovers arrive at the Scottish SEA LIFE Sanctuary just in time for Valentine´s Day.

The Sanctuary struck a deal with the Sea Life Centre in Blackpool to provide it with two sharks in exchange for two breeding pairs of Big Bellied Seahorses.

The swap will enable the Oban attraction to become the latest branch in a Europe-wide seahorse breeding network designed to generate enough stock for educational displays across the continent.
Big Bellied Seahorses
Big Bellied Seahorses "We´re really thrilled to be hosting not one, but two pairs of these amazing creatures," said displays supervisor Pete Coombes.

"The timing was pure coincidence, but they could scarcely be more appropriate new arrivals on the eve of the most romantic day of the year.

"They not only pair for life, they spend as much as eight hours every day twining tails and performing an elaborate courtship dance to reinforce the bond between them," he added.

During the breeding season from May to September, this amorous behaviour becomes even more intense.
"The male can produce a clutch of between 400 and 600 offspring every three to four weeks," said Pete.

"As soon as one brood emerges from his pouch the courtship becomes even more vigorous and the female can deposit another batch of eggs in there within hours."

Pete and his colleagues are confident the summer will see them tending to a thriving nursery of baby big-bellies in different stages of development.

One of the largest seahorses in the world, the Australian big belly Hippocampus abdominalis can grow to over a foot tall, and live for around five years.

Sea Life centres have recently partnered with The Seahorse Trust charity in a bid to raise awareness of threats to wild seahorses, most notably the slaughter of an estimated 150 million per annum to provide ingredients for Chinese traditional medicines.

"We are also appealing for help from scuba divers, fishermen and other regular sea-goers around the world to report seahorse sightings to help assess population sizes and map their distribution," said Pete.

"It´s vital we have the best possible data when campaigning for protective measures to prevent seahorses being wiped out altogether," he added.

The two pairs of big bellies were personally delivered to the Oban Sanctuary by Blackpool Sea Life marine expert Martin Sutcliffe, who was equally pleased with the exchange.

The Blackpool centre - popular with thousands of holidaymakers from Scotland every summer - has just given its massive ocean display a major overhaul, and brought in new shark species for the coming season.

The addition of a smooth hound and starry smooth hound sharks from the Scottish SEA LIFE Sanctuary will complete a line up of 22 different species, the biggest selection in Britain.
Press Release issued by The Scottish SEA LIFE Sanctuary
For more details, please contact Craig Connor on 01631 720386
Date: 13th February 2013