Not catching or touching seahorses, avoiding anchoring boats on seagrass meadows and not sailing in refuge areas are some of the measures to protect the seahorses that already roam the Ria Formosa.
The campaign promoted by Center for Marine Sciences of the Algarve (CCMAR), by the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) and by the Almancil International Rotary Club (AIRC) started on Wednesday, July 27, with the placement of the first signs at the Olhão Pier.
“One of our struggles and our goals is to promote the defense and protection of this species. This is a passing zone, where there is a large group of people heading to the beach and it is these people who can, in some way, harm, but also defend. That's why we have to make them aware", he tells the Sul Informação João Evaristo, councilor for the Environment of the Municipality of Olhão.
«This has been a concern of the Chamber for several years», he continues, thanking the Rotary Club of Almancil the initiative.
Rita Costa Abecasis, from CCMAR, also relaunches the importance of putting the campaign into practice at this time of year.
«Here, in the Algarve and in Ria Formosa, we talk a lot about seahorses and we do a lot of awareness campaigns with schools, but the importance of being a bathing campaign is closely related to the number of visitors who are not from here and who do not have notion of what the seahorse is: they don't know how to protect or the conservation needs», says the head of communication at CCMAR.
For Rita Abecasis, it is also important to highlight the concern of the Rotary Club of Almancil with this issue.
“Having people from all over the world funding our research and helping to signal the seahorse refuge area is very positive. It shows the international recognition of what we are doing», he continues.
Klaus Ukens, member of the Rotary Club, stresses that "the Communication is very important because, if people are not informed, they do not know the risk of their actions».
«In 15 years, the seahorse population in Ria Formosa has decreased by more than 90% and it is important to make people aware of this», says Klaus, who has lived in the Algarve for almost four years and is a member of the Rotary since 2020.
«That year, I and other members visited CCMAR and we realized that this is a problem, but also an opportunity for us to help», he tells the Sul Informação, mentioning that during the pandemic, he took the opportunity to contact people outside the country who also want to help with funding.
Ana Margarida Magalhães, director of the Nature Conservation department at ICNF/Algarve, highlights the “unique system” that is the Ria Formosa.
«The Ria Formosa has a very important resilience to all human activities, but in fact we have to be attentive. What we see is that we have to anticipate some care regarding the habitat that can be jeopardized by various issues”, he says.
«This year promises many visits to Ria Formosa, so we thought it essential to launch this initiative at this time», concludes Ana Margarida Magalhães.
Photos: Mariana Sedge | Sul Informação