Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sea Horse Suggests Virginia River Improvement

Seahorse find inspires more searching in Lafayette River
Scientists this summer found a surprise living at the bottom of the Lafayette River: a seahorse.

The discovery sparked curiosity and excitement among those who follow the restoration of the waterway, a branch of the industrial Elizabeth River, and caused researchers to suggest that this little creature may signal something big.

"You wouldn't expect to see seahorses in a highly polluted system, since they like clean water," said Walter Priest, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, based in Gloucester Point. "To see one here, it's one of those charismatic things. It really is a harbinger of good things."

Priest, who grew up on the Lafayette, was speaking this week from the back of a science boat owned by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. He and other researchers were out Tuesday dragging a weighted net along the muddy river bottom, taking inventory of aquatic life they retrieved from a waterway once given up for dead.

They also were hoping to find another seahorse or two.

After the first seahorse was discovered at the mouth of the Lafayette on July 7, not far from Norfolk International Terminals, photos and a brief summary were posted on a website for the Elizabeth River Project, a local environmental group. People went nuts.
That seems a slender reed to put much hope in. It could just be one stupid seahorse.

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