August 25, 2016
Project Seahorse by Pamela S. Turner
Digoy swims across the reef. He uses no scuba tank or snorkel. The only light comes from the kerosene lantern on his boat. He is looking for sea horses.
For years fisherman in the Philipines have searched out hard-to-find sea horses. While people don’t eat these curious animals, they want them for other reasons. Some people want to keep them in home aquariums, gathering round to gaze at the prehistoric looking animals. Others wear them in jewelry and display them in decorations. Still others grind them up and use them in medicines.
But Digoy doesn’t keep the seahorse. He is one of the fisherman working to preserve the world’s reefs and the many fish these habitats support.
Turner shares a wealth of seahorse information for curious young readers (males are the ones that carry the unborn fish) but the book is so much more. It describes Project Seahorse a conservation effort that encourages local people to preserve reefs. Coral reefs provide shelter for many ocean fish. Save the reef and the fish that live around it in one area and soon nearby areas also benefit.
But Amanda Vincent and Heather Koldeway, the scientists working on this project aren’t naive. They know that the people need to support their families. They don’t want them to stop fishing altogether but instead help develop guidelines that allow the people to make a living while also preserving the wildlife. Through this project, local people replant mangrove trees which provide shelter for young fish.
Most of the books in this series, Scientists in the Field, focus on the animal in question. While Turners book gives plenty of information about sea horses, it also gives information on the complex web of environments and natural resources that impact the lives of the sea horses, other marine life and even the people who live in the Philippines.
This books makes an excellent stepping off point for conversations about ecology and preservation as well as the animals themselves. Be prepared for some lengthy conversations.