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New rewilding project to create haven for protected seahorses - University of Portsmouth

Credit Neil Garrick-Maidment
Credit Neil Garrick-Maidment

University researchers worked with partners to install the first Biohut cage system at Haslar Marina in Portsmouth.

The University of Portsmouth has joined forces with The Seahorse Trust and national boating business, boatfolk, as part of a re-wilding project which aims to create a safe habitat for one of the UK’s native seahorse species, the protected Short Snouted Seahorse, along with other juvenile and vulnerable marine wildlife.

University researchers worked with partners to install the first Biohut cage system at Haslar Marina in Portsmouth. The Biohut is an artificial marine aquatic nursery, which provides shelter to many juvenile species. It restores the ecological nursery function that is lost when natural shallow coastal waters become urban environments. A specialist gauge rope has also been added to give the Short Snouted Seahorse the ideal environment to thrive, hunt and hide from prey.

The Biohuts were designed, built and deployed by Dr Ian Hendy from the University’s Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) along with his two Masters students, Stephanie Northen and Georgios Georgiou. Dr Hendy and his students are doing all of the data collection and analysis and providing expert advice on the project too.

Dr Hendy said: "While many studies report on the decline of coastal biodiversity, we will be reporting on how the Biohuts have created new and safe habitats for a vast number of baby, rare, and endangered aquatic animals in the marinas of the Solent. This project will greatly improve the vibrant wildlife, the environment and will benefit communities local to the Solent. This rewilding also fits into the larger narrative of several projects that we have running at IMS which includes the Help our Kelp project (championed by Sir David Attenborough), as well as a project to restore the native oyster to the Solent and saltmarsh restoration work along the South Coast.”

The re-wilding project forms part of boatfolk’s wider environmental program, Coastline Deadline, designed to back projects which have a positive and measurable impact on the coastline.

Posted on: 07 July 2021

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