Monday, 21 December 2020

Why a leading Australian winery wants to help save endangered seahorses

A new chain of five-star hotels is set to open in Sydney Harbour - but only guests of the seahorse variety will be welcome to stay. 

Family-owned South Australian winery Taylors Wines has partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) to launch an initiative to save the endangered White’s seahorse (or Sydney seahorse) from extinction. 

The SeaBnB campaign is a fundraising initiative calling on Australians to give these underwater equines a temporary home while SIMS researchers work to rebuild their permanent, seagrass habitats.

All donations (less any transaction fees) go directly towards SIMS’ research projects with the aim to fully restore the seahorse’s natural habitats and give the creatures a fighting chance of avoiding extinction. 

“I’ve always been fascinated by the great work that SIMS does and I’m blown away by the innovative research they are doing to restore the homes of these precious marine creatures,” Taylors Wines third-generation winemaker and managing director Mitchell Taylor said. 

“Seahorses, much like grapevines, are an indicator species that raise the alarm to serious climate-related issues. It’s very important we do what we can to reverse their population decline before it’s too late.”

The Sydney seahorse is endemic to the east coast of Australia and is one of only two seahorses on the planet to be listed as an endangered species. 

Their preferred homes, the underwater seagrass meadows known as posidonia australis, are declining at a rapid rate, like coral reefs. 

SIMS says the survival of this seagrass species is crucial in the fight against climate change. It has the ability to slow climate change by storing carbon 30 to 40 times faster than terrestrial forests. 

And while being home to beautiful sea critters like the Sydney seahorse, the seagrass helps filter the debris in our oceans. 

“This is such an exciting initiative between SIMS and Taylors – it’s a partnership which unites two quite distinct organisations who share common values focused on safeguarding the future of the planet,” said SIMS CEO Martina Doblin. 

“Many people don’t realise that changes in the earth’s climate system impact both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Every second breath we take is from our oceans. The SeaBnB initiative is an important project that brings together two areas of research - restoring seagrass meadows in Sydney Harbour, and artificial seahorse habitats for the endangered Sydney seahorse. 

“We hope this campaign will inspire everyone to support our work and learn more about the importance of these restoration efforts.” 

The goal for the SeaBnB initiative is to raise $150,000 which will enable SIMS to fully restore select areas of seagrass meadows that have been lost. In turn, this creates the opportunity to reintroduce a herd of captive-raised seahorses to their natural habitat. 

Donations of any denomination can be made at SeaBnB.com.au or selected from the list of luxury SeaBnB seahorse accommodation packages. 

To launch the campaign, Taylors Wines hascalled upon Australian record free diver Adam Stern to act as an underwater hotel concierge for incoming seahorse guests in a short film about the initiative. 

“We have some incredible marine life in Sydney," Stern said. "I think most people in the city don’t even know what an amazing underwater world is all around them. 

“It’s hard not to notice the deterioration of marine habitats all over the country. Without projects like these, we’re going to continue to see the degradation of these underwater environments. 

"In addition to donating to the cause, I reckon all Australians should grab a mask and snorkel, jump into the ocean and explore. I think once people see what a special thing we have, they’ll realise how important it is to protect it.” Funds raised for this campaign directly supports three phases of SIMS research and restoration projects. 

The seahorse logo features on Taylors wines labels.   

To kick start the campaign, Taylors has chipped in $10,000. 


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