By Karrie Gillett
SIX rare seahorses have arrived in Scotland to start a new breeding programme to save the endangered species.
The big bellied sea creatures flew into Edinburgh airport to travel the short distance to their new home at the Deep Sea World in Fife.
Passengers at the airport were treated to a glimpse of the curious looking fish as they were released from their polystyrene box and shown off to airline staff.
The seahorses – which can grow up to 25 cm – travelled from their home in Portsmouth in sealed seawater bags filled with oxygen.
And Zahra d’Aronville, curator of the Blue Reef aquariums in England, accompanied the new additions on their journey.
She said: “They were packaged up really carefully and they were secure for the entire flight. We made sure the box were always kept warm as the species originate from Australia and prefer hotter temperatures.
“The seahorses were captive-bred down at our aquarium in Portsmouth and we knew Scotland was trying to source some seahorses.
“We donated these six to them and it will be amazing to see them join the four already there.
“Seahorses are fascinating creatures and completely unique in the animal kingdom. They are an endangered species and it’s vital to preserve them in this way.”
Seahorse reproduction is distinctive in that it is the males who carry the young and give birth to their offspring.
The big bellied species – which can live up to 15 years – are particularly important in a breeding programme as they can deliver up to 700 baby seahorses in one birth.
And the new keeper of the seahorses is looking forward to introducing them to their Scottish home and potential partners.
Michael Morris, aquarist at the North Queensferry Deep Sea World, said: “We’re very excited to see them here today and happy they made the journey safe.
“The big bellied species are fairly rare in the wild due to pollution and over-fishing so the breeding programme is significant.
“They are going to join our seahorses in the tank so hopefully we will have lots of babies on the way soon.”