On December 11, Hong Kong Airport authorities seized 9 kg of dried seahorses with assistance from a sniffer dog who is trained to find contraband. It was the second batch of dried seahorses seized this month, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. According to the report, dried seahorses sell between US$600 to US$3,000 per kg, making the illegal importation of these endangered species very lucrative for the smugglers.
The value of seahorses based on weight makes them retail for more than the price of silver and almost that of gold in Asia, according to SaveOurSeahorses.org. It is estimated that 20 million wild seahorses are caught each year and make their way into the traditional Chinese medicine markets, where the dried carcasses are said to cure everything from asthma to improved sexual performance.
For the aquarium hobby, captive bred seahorses are widely available and do very well in aquariums. If you wish to start a seahorse species tank, insist on captive bred specimens to enhance your chance of success.