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The smallest seahorse

Hipocampo denise

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The smallest known species of seahorse was recently discovered in the seas of Indonesia. This new species, adding to the already known 32, has been named Denise’s Seahorse. It is a type of seahorse that barely reaches 16 mm in length, even smaller than a fingernail.

Marine biologist Sara Lourie, a member of the Project Seahorse team based at the University of British Columbia, relied on the incredible work of renowned underwater photographer Denise Tackett to classify the new species. Tackett captured a total of 1,997 photographs of the tiny seahorse in its natural habitat.

Dr. Lourie chose the name Denise, which comes from the Greek god of wine Dionysus and means “wild and frenetic,” as these seahorses are small and highly active compared to other seahorse species.

At the same time, in the markets of Hong Kong, various products based on seahorses can be found. The long list includes dried seahorses as keychains, Christmas ornaments, or simple souvenirs. But perhaps the most ridiculous of these products is a type of hair tonic sold in bottles that contain seahorses inside. The belief is that if the seahorses are submerged in the tonic, even while still alive, their liquids released upon drowning will enhance the potency of the tonic.

It is incredible that while one group of people makes great and admirable efforts to classify and understand these beloved creatures in order to conserve them, another group of people cheerfully suffocates them in gelatinous paste with the sole purpose of making money, showing no respect for life.

Undoubtedly, the modern world is divided between those who protect and those who kill, between those who pollute and those who clean. The old controversy between hunters and environmentalists has various facets. Humanity, in all its diversity, has been capable of creating penicillin and the atomic bomb in a world divided into two groups: those who comprehend and those who never understood anything.

This is the fantastic world we live in, with its successes and its mistakes. A world in which, sooner or later, we will have to choose which side we want to belong to…

“You cannot defend what you do not love, and you cannot love what you do not know.”