Seahorses Star in New Tours at Mote Aquarium

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Lined seahorses are raised in Mote's Seahorse Conservation Laboratory, where new tours have begun this month. Photo Credit: Mote Marine Laboratory

Seahorses Star in New Tours at Mote Aquarium

Jan 12, 2011

Meet the only horses that change color and have monkey-like tails — and learn why raising them takes much more than “horse sense” — during new tours launched this month at Mote Aquarium.

Mote’s Seahorse Conservation Laboratory Tours reveal what threats seahorses face in the wild and how Mote breeds them for conservation. Tours are offered for small groups on most Thursdays. Tickets must be purchased at least one day in advance. Details below.

Seahorses are harvested around the world for traditional medicines, caught and dried for the souvenir trade and collected for aquariums. More than 25 million seahorses are consumed annually, causing concern that wild populations are becoming depleted and even endangered.

To reduce the pressure on these fascinating fish, Mote raises seahorses that are later displayed in more than 40 aquariums, zoos and science institutions around the country.

“Not only is it important to raise seahorses, but educating people about them is also key, said Seahorse Conservation Laboratory Supervisor Shawn Garner, who leads the tours and is among the country’s most accomplished seahorse aquarists. “Only when you learn about seahorses can you fully comprehend their beauty, their uniqueness in the animal world and why we need to protect them.”

Tour guests can see how Garner raises lined seahorses — a species that lives in Southwest Florida that is often found in aquariums — and learn about seahorse biology, breeding, coloration, camouflage and diet. During the tour, guests will see how Garner takes care of hundreds of baby seahorses, or fry, in special habitats that serve as paternity wards — that’s right, male seahorses get pregnant and give birth.

Tours begin at 11 a.m. on most Thursdays, last about 45 minutes and accommodate up to six guests per tour. Tours are not recommended for children younger than age 10.

The price is $20 per person. To purchase tickets, please contact Mote’s Group Sales at 941-388-4441, ext. 536, or e-mail

Note: Seahorse Conservation Lab Tours do not include general admission to Mote Aquarium, which is $17 for adults, $16 for seniors (over 65), $12 for kids (ages 4-12) and free for children ages 3 and younger. Mote Members always get in free.

If you want to give Mote’s horses a helping hand, you can adopt at seahorse by visiting You’ll receive an adoption certificate and other special benefits.

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