Saturday, April 12, 2008

Rare Seahorses in the River Thames

Dear readers, one of our fiction editors, newly back from England, sent this article from the BBC to me today, with the comment:

Seahorses are just mystical to me and I loved seeing them at the London Zoo, where there was a wonderful exhibit of watercolor sketches of them (seadragons, too).

We wanted to pass the article to you, because this is indeed a wild magic of nature and a wonder of ecology. British biologists report that short-snouted seahorses, usually living in the warmer waters off the Canary Islands or in the Mediterranean, have been sighted in the Thames "in shallow muddy waters, estuaries or seagrass beds" as far upriver as east London. Think of that! Subtropical seahorses, beautiful with their tiny, ridged bodies, living in that cold river. Seahorses in London. It is a beautiful thing. As of last weekend, the species has been granted protected status, and the BBC reports that the presence of the seahorses indicates an increase in the quality of London's water. (I wonder if it indicates global warming, as well.)

The portrait to the left is Seahorse, an oil and canvas painting by the former photojournalist Shawn Olson, and it does not depict a short-snouted seahorse. However, you can learn more about snort-shouted seahorses here.

Seahorses: they are beautiful and evocative even without the invention of sea-folk to ride them: they are a species that rides the waves by wrapping their tails around plants; in which the male carries the eggs; and in which the creature's two eyes move completely independently of each other, in its attempt to watch for food or peril. What could be more wondrous?

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