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‘Saddle a seahorse’

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Three of those lovable equine creatures of the sea, also known as seahorses, were captured and released by a group of city kids studying the aquatic life in the East River.

The kids, who are part of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s (BBPC) Camp Cove program, caught the seahorses while seining on the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge.

Seining is an ancient fishing technique where scientists use a 30-foot seining net to catch fish and invertebrates.

“We started the seining program in 2008 and we didn’t find any seahorses last year, but we found three this year,” said Nancy Webster, BBPC interim executive director. “The kids were real excited. They (seahorses) were about five inches long. We let the kids get a nice look at them up close, but then as we do with all the catch, we released them back into the East River.”

Webster said the brackish waters beneath the Manhattan Bridge combines the Hudson River, the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

Seahorses are unique in both their resemblance to a horse and that they are also one of the few monogamous creatures in the animal world that mate for life.

They are also among the only animal species in which the male bears the unborn young, as the female deposits her eggs in the male’s pouch, who then fertilizes the eggs and carries them until they hatch.

Typically, seahorses are found in shallow tropical and temperate waters throughout the world, swim upright and range in size from about a half inch to 14 inches.

“The variety of marine life underneath the Manhattan Bridge is extraordin­ary,” said Webster. “The kids wade into the river from the sandy Brooklyn sidewhere there tends to be juvenile marine life.”

Also netted and released was flounder, striped bass, Atlantic tomcod, bay anchovy, green crabs, blue crabs, shrimp, comb jellies, silversides, and pipefish.

The kids participating in Camp Cove came from the Red Hook-based Good Shepherd Services youth development agency.

Camp Cove is part of a series of free summer programs at the park offering Brooklyn youth hands-on exploration and environmental study with a focus on the inter-connectivity of ecological systems in our local urban environment.

Last year the series, funded through Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, provided 21 programs over the course of the summer and served 1,042 people.

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