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By Lucrezia Cuen
L O N D O N, June 8 Think of a fish that looks like a horse, with a tail like a monkey, a snout like an anteater and a pouch like a kangaroo and youll have one of the most beautiful underwater creatures the seahorse.
Beauty is not their only attraction. Seahorses are shy yet playful creatures who will hold hands with their human admirers by wrapping their tails around a divers finger.
They are also the most faithful of partners. Seahorses court and choose a mate for life, a fidelity that is rare in the animal kingdom. But it is in procreation where the seahorse is truly unique.
It is the male seahorse who gets pregnant, carries the young in a kangaroo-like pouch, goes through labor and gives birth.
Seahorses are strange, beautiful, oddities of nature. But the very things that make them so fascinating to humans now threatens to lead them to extinction.
Seahorse populations globally have declined dramatically, says Dr. Heather Hall, a London Zoo Curator. In some areas as much as by 50 percent in a five to 10 year period. (See audio, right.)
Hall and Dr. Amanda Vincent of McGill University in Montreal co-fouded and lead Project Seahorse, a global conservation program trying to save the seahorse from extinction
Mystique Is Its Downfall
Seahorses have been used in Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years. Theyre marketed as treatments for asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, and impotence.
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