Coast KZN

29 Sep 2023

Holidaymakers, residents to the rescue as thousands of seahorses wash up on Plett beach

Se-Ann Rall (IOL) Picture: David Ritchie / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Nature’s Petro van Rhyn said heavy rains led to a flood on Tuesday in the Keurboomsriver and Bitou River which flushed out the seahorses.

“They were stranded on Wednesday morning just after low tide. The big swell on Thursday also perpetuated the situation and they got washed out the mouth into a current and then the waves deposited them onto the beach. The same phenomena occurred on Thursday,” van Rhyn explained.

She said up to 1,004 seahorses were collected of which 706 were released.

Speaking to IOL, van Rhyn said 94 were found dead but will be kept in the freezer for resaerch purposes.

“The strong live ones are being put back into the estuary where they usually occur and where there is a huge eelgrass bed because that’s where they seek refuge and shelter and where they find their food,” she added.

CapeNature thanked all those who assisted in helping to save the stranded creatures.

“We did not even ask for help, but the news of the stranded seahorses spread like wildfire on social media and local people, who obviously has a concern for this precious species. The public action was incredible, and it was a great combination of many people showing up and many people showing up at the right time. With this interaction we could find so many more seahorses. We absolutely commend the public and their actions. It was a huge community effort,” she said.

Van Rhyn added that the Knysna seahorse is truly a national treasure.

“It is South Africa’s only endemic seahorse and is one of only two endangered seahorse species in the world. Found in only three Southern Cape Estuaries – the Knysna, Swartvlei and Keurbooms Estuaries -s the Knysna seahorse is an iconic species for Knysna,” she said.