Saturday, June 16, 2012

Operation Save-the-Seahorse

"How am I going to swim out with a
seahorse in my hand?"
A few days ago, we turned the truck north after nearly 6 months on the Sea of Cortez near the tip of Baja. 6 months! (As a side note, we will be heading south to mainland Mexico in November at the start of the dry, non-buggy season).  We spent the night on the Pacific side at a beach called La Pastora, about 50 miles up the coast from the tip of Baja.

While Scott was taking a dip, I noticed a piece of seaweed washing up on the beach that was moving!  It turns out that it was a female Pacific Seahorse who must have been a long way from home.  I grabbed her from the pounding waves and put her in a bucket, wondering what we were going to do with her. During a lull in the waves, Scott threw her back in the water only to have the eventual pounding waves push her back to shore.  I volunteered Scott to take her out past the waves with his flippers.  We put her in a water bottle and Scott took her out near the edge of the breaking waves.  He lost a flipper in the waves, and in the frenzy, decided to ditch the seahorse hoping that he had gotten far enough out.

The best part was when she would squeeze tighter
around my finger if I moved
A couple hours later, while Scott was fishing from shore, he found her again washed up on the beach, barely moving, covered in sand.  We revived her in a bucket of water and let her rest all night (hoping that she wouldn't die in the bucket).  When I put my finger in the bucket, she would wrap her tail around it, squeezing a little tighter if I moved. Scott submerged a stick with a rock hoping she could do the same to a stick.  It took a while, but she wrapped around the stick and stayed there all night.  I was so worried that she would die overnight.  I told Scott I could never run an animal shelter because I would never sleep, always worried about the sick/injured animals.

Maybe this is when he lost his flipper?
A successful seahorse release
That evening, and the next morning, we went back and forth about what to do with her.  We had seen a "pet store" in Todos Santos, 5 miles south, and wondered if we should drive her back to the pet store with the hope that they had a salt-water aquarium or knew someone that did.  I was skeptical about this approach so I again volunteered Scott to take her out past the breaking waves ("this time farther please").

This time, Scott took her way out past the breakers. When he let her go, she curled up into a ball and stayed at the surface, propelling herself a little, but no match for the wind. Thinking she needed to be deeper, he dove down to the bottom (about 10 feet), and let her go.  He even waited in the cold water for a while to see if she would resurface.  She stayed submerged, so Scott swam in.

I always thought seahorses were something that I would only see in an aquarium.  Despite all of our snorkeling, we've never seen a seahorse in the wild.  I can only hope our efforts made a difference for this one. Scott says if he had written this blog, he would have titled it "Hold Your Horses".

Scott celebrating his seahorse rescue at La Pastora beach 


Stevie said...

Good teamwork! Long live the sea horse!

Anonymous said...

I found your blog via searching for "starflyte" motorhomes. Wish I would have found it sooner, you guys are living!