New Special Exhibit "Seahorse Symphony" Opens May 10 at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium Tubes, Tails and Pregnant Males!



    CHICAGO, April 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Come see and believe!  Shedd Aquarium's
 new special exhibit Seahorse Symphony, sponsored by Bank of America, is the
 world's largest collection of seahorses and their relatives.  Visitors will
 see creatures so mystical and unusual that many people believe they only exist
 in legends, myths and folklore.
     They're real, they need our help, and they're only at Shedd Aquarium
 beginning Mother's Day, May 10.  Celebrate Mother's Day with us and learn
 about an unusual characteristic of seahorse "mothers" -- the male seahorse
 actually gets pregnant and gives birth!
 
     There's one in every family...
     Seahorses and their relatives -- seadragons, pipefishes, ghost pipefishes,
 shrimpfishes, snipefishes, trumpetfishes and cornetfishes -- make up the order
 Syngnathiformes (sing-NATH-ih-forms).  Together, these animals form what
 scientists call the "fused jaw" fishes.  Like the varied instruments in a
 symphony orchestra, Seahorse Symphony members don't all look the same.  These
 fishes differ in shape and appearance, but several characteristics are alike:
 
     *      long, tube-shaped snouts
     *      armored bodies and delicate fins
     *      protective camouflage
 
     Seahorses, pipefish and seadragons also share another unusual trait.  The
 male becomes pregnant!  The female produces the eggs and deposits them in a
 pouch or directly on her mate's underside.  After fertilizing the eggs, the
 male carries and protects the developing young.  He provides them with oxygen
 and nourishment, and after several weeks the young burst forth as miniature
 replicas of their parents.
     These elusive fish swim in the shallow waters of the world's oceans: in
 seagrass meadows, around coral reefs, in mangrove forests and in floating beds
 of seaweed.  They live along coasts all around the world, except in polar
 waters.  A few pipefish species even inhabit freshwater streams.
 
     Unusual traits...but a common problem
     These beautiful fishes are in trouble and they need your help!  It is
 estimated that each year more than 20 million seahorses are taken from the
 wild to be used in medicines, as pets and as souvenirs.  More than 40
 countries, including the United States, are involved in the trade of
 seahorses.  How many seahorses exist in the wild?  No one knows for sure, but
 seahorse fishers are reporting declining catches in recent years.
     Human population growth and too much consumption around the world means
 that many resources, including seahorses, are being overused.  As the size of
 the seahorse population spirals downward, people must help if seahorses are to
 survive.
     "The earth's oceanic ecosystem is a fascinating, yet fragile thing," said
 William M. Goodyear, chairman of Bank of America's Illinois operations and
 head of the Global Private Bank. "By helping to preserve this underwater
 habitat, we not only help the creatures that live within it, but the future
 generations who can learn so much from studying it. Bank of America is proud
 to be the corporate sponsor of Seahorse Symphony."
     At Shedd Aquarium, we are financially helping to support an international
 effort called Project Seahorse. Project Seahorse is a group committed to
 conserving seahorse populations while recognizing the needs of people who
 depend on them -- a critical environmental concept called "sustainable use."
 Led by biologist Dr. Amanda Vincent of McGill University in Canada with Dr.
 Heather Hall of the Zoological Society of London, Project Seahorse brings
 scientists and seahorse users together to come up with a variety of solutions
 including:
 
     *     field conservation--community based initiatives in the Philippines
           and Vietnam
     *     trade adjustment--documenting and influencing trade globally
     *     biological research--seahorse ecology, reproduction, taxonomy,
           disease
     *     ex-situ keeping and culturing--coordination of husbandry and
           breeding methods in aquaria and application to small-scale
           aquaculture
 
     Shedd Aquarium supports Project Seahorse's work in community education
 programs for Philippine villagers through a grant from the Dr. Scholl
 Foundation.
     It's not too late!  Working together to support projects like these, we
 can make a difference.  Visit Shedd Aquarium this summer and see some of the
 ocean's most amazing creatures and learn what you can do to help.
     For more information about Seahorse Symphony and other Shedd Aquarium
 events, please call 312-939-2438.  Advance tickets are recommended.  Advance
 tickets can be purchased at Shedd Aquarium's front entrance from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
 seven days a week.  Tickets also can be purchased from Charge-by-Phone at
 312-559-0200.  Tickets are $11 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and
 seniors.  Members are free.  Children ages 2 and under are free.  Admission
 price includes Aquarium, Oceanarium and Seahorse Symphony special exhibit.
     Bank of America serves the Midwest through its Chicago headquarters,
 employing more than 3,500 people locally, and 93,000 internationally.  It is
 the fifth largest bank holding company in the United States with more than
 $260.2 billion in assets.
     Shedd Aquarium is supported by the people of Chicago through the Chicago
 Park District.
 
                         Project Seahorse -- Fact Sheet
 
     With more than 20 million seahorses being taken from the wild each year,
 seahorse populations are on a downward spiral.  These animals are mostly being
 used for medicinal purposes and in the pet and souvenir trades.  Over the past
 10 years, seahorse fishers have reported declining catches and smaller
 specimens.  At this rate, many seahorse populations are likely to be in
 trouble.
     Around the world, some of the poorest people depend on fishing seahorses
 as their main source of income.  Rather than take a "just say no" approach to
 fishing seahorses, the challenge is to balance the needs of seahorses and the
 people who depend on them for their livelihoods and medicines.
     At Shedd Aquarium, we are helping to support an international effort
 called Project Seahorse.  Project Seahorse is a group committed to conserving
 seahorse populations while recognizing the needs of people who use them-a
 critical environmental concept called "sustainable use."
     Led by biologist Dr. Amanda Vincent of McGill University in Canada with
 Dr. Heather Hall of the Zoological Society of London, Project Seahorse brings
 scientists and seahorse users together to come up with a variety of creative
 solutions including:
     *      field conservation-community-based initiatives in the Philippines
            and Vietnam
     *      trade adjustment--documenting and influencing trade globally
     *      biological research--seahorse ecology, reproduction, taxonomy,
            disease
     *      ex-situ keeping and culturing--coordination of husbandry and
            breeding methods in aquaria and application to small-scale
            aquaculture
 
     There have been many significant achievements thanks to Project Seahorse.
 Through field interviews and worldwide correspondence, Project Seahorse
 gathers data on seahorse trade, including volume, prices and trade routes.
 This information helps to focus conservation efforts and work for measures to
 protect seahorses.
     Customs authorities also are encouraged to get involved.  Partly through
 the efforts of Project Seahorse, the European Union and Hong Kong now monitor
 seahorse trade, and Australia requires export permits for seahorses.
     In the Philippines, Project Seahorse encourages and assists local people
 in setting up and guarding marine preserves.  In these protected areas,
 seahorses and other marine animals are safe from overfishing and habitat
 damage.  When the protected populations become dense enough, fishes leave the
 reserves.
     This overflow provides more fishes for fishers to catch -- an important
 reason why they protect the reserves and a great example of how people and
 animals can co-exist.  The team also helps manage the seahorse fishery more
 wisely, promotes village self-management, trains local youth as conservation
 apprentices and helps develop ways to earn income without overfishing.
     Project Seahorse also is working with Vietnam's Institute of Oceanography
 to develop small-scale seahorse farms.  The goal is to help seahorse fishers
 become seahorse farmers, thereby reducing wild seahorse fishing.  But we must
 be careful that farming seahorses does not increase the demand for seahorses,
 thus encouraging larger takes from wild populations.  The balance is very
 delicate -- like the creatures themselves.
     Shedd Aquarium continues to support the work of Project Seahorse
 financially through our Aquatic Science Grants and by furthering public
 education through the new special exhibit Seahorse Symphony.  There is a great
 deal to learn about the husbandry and biology of these unique fish.  By
 working together with biologists, conservationists and other scientists; by
 teaching our guests about seahorses and by supporting international
 conservation efforts, Shedd Aquarium is helping Project Seahorse make a
 difference.
 
 

SOURCE Shedd Aquarium

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