Shedd aquarium: "Save seahorses, buy our souvenirs!"

The seahorses were sleeping, tails wrapped around branches, lights dimmed. Beneath them glowed a sign:

Buy crafts made in our giftshop, made by Filipino seahorse fishers and their families. You’ll help the families earn a living without having to catch sea horses.


Where did the Shedd aquarium get their seahorses? I would guess they bought them or their progenitors from those Filipino fishers they’re so valiantly trying to wean off of capturing and selling seahorses.

But what really irks me is the fact the aquarium is encouraging its patrons to spend money in their gift shop as a solution to helping the endangered seahorses.

I’ve spent over a month of my life under the ocean’s surface and, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the ocean is big. There’s lots of room to swim around. In the museum’s aquariums there isn’t. Whether with zoos or aquariums, I’ve always validated their existence as a place for the average Joe to go and see why we need to protect our world and the creatures with which we share it. The seahorses in the aquarium sacrifice their freedom for the protection of their free-swimming brethren, as does the lion pacing the cage for those hunting on the open savanna.

Zoos and aquariums have the responsibility to educate and conserve, not feed us lines of bullshit that by spending $29.99 on a basket we’re saving the world.

I’ve never seen a seahorse underwater, and I hope someday I will. If I do, I’m pretty sure it will not be a result of deplorable, self-promoting propaganda like this…

Save the seahorses

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Aquagrrl says:

The Shedd aquarium has not gotten its seahorses from those Filipino seahorse fishers. The species they have are all captive reared, one species from the Australian waters (heavily regulated)and one from American waters. Their razor/shrimp fish MIGHT from from those areas but I don’t believe they are threatened. Their sea dragons are all from captive reared sources.

The shedd aquarium has a partnership with Project Seahorse, which some of these craft schemes are the brainchild of. In addition to selling crafts, they’re also encouraging farming of seahorses so that they aren’t removing wild seahorses. Maybe it seems like a croc to you, but I certainly think that what they’re doing is one of the better ways of trying to protect wild populations. If they just got the countries in question to pass laws banning the collection of seahorses, it would either harm the fishers, or encourage poaching, or both. Instead, they’re encouraging solutions that are workable for everyone.

Kelsey says:


Thanks for educating me about the seahorses of the Shedd aquarium. They definitely were the highlight of my visit and I really hope that I can see one in the wild someday.

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, apparently this is the case with the seahorse. After I finish writing this I’ll try to find info on Project Seahorse. Maybe, I’ll even make them the Link of the Week.

Regardless how much the Shedd Aquarium does for seahorses, their gift shop comment still rubs me the wrong way. My wife used to work as a dolphin trainer at Sea World and the more I became familiar with the industry, the uglier it seemed. Granted, selling tiny seahorses is much different than buying and trading a killer whale.

Again, thanks for your comments.

Let your voice be heard!