Malaysian Marine Biologist Shares Why Saving Seahorses Is Vital To Marine Life & Habitats

They contribute to the prosperity of the ecosystem at the bottom of the sea.

Cover image via Adam Lim (provided to SAYS)

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Meet Dr Adam Lim, a marine biologist, business director, and chairperson of Save Our Seahorses Malaysia

Dr Adam is a man who wears many hats. During his usual work days, he is a business director who helps companies from various industries solve problems in relation to insurance.

However, what Dr Adam is really passionate about is sea creatures, particularly seahorses. As a marine biologist and chairperson of non-profit organisation, Save Our Seahorses Malaysia, it has become his life goal to ensure the conservation of seahorses, and it started from a young age.

Adam started off as a Save Our Seahorses Malaysia volunteer in 2008, when the organisation was still relatively new

Founded in 2005 by Adam's mentor, Mr Choo Chee Kuang, Save Our Seahorses Malaysia is a non-profit group founded on the grounds that seahorses are an essential resource to other marine life and habitats. 

The main work of the organisation boils down to ensuring the conservation of seahorses in Malaysia through research, public awareness, and information dissemination, through extensive collaboration with various stakeholders.

Speaking to SAYS, Adam explained that seahorses are carnivorous animals, and their consumption of smaller-based aquatic life is necessary to the well-being of other sea creatures

According to Adam, seahorses are the 'sharks' of the bottom of the sea. Just as sharks control and maintain the sea's food chain by being the main predators, which contributes to the prosperity of the ecosystem, seahorses do the same at the bottom of the sea.

As the carnivores of the deep sea, seahorses typically hunt down smaller micro creatures situated at lower levels of the sea, such as tiny crabs and plankton.

Seahorses are also able to shift colours at will, earning them the nickname the 'chameleons of the sea'.

Throughout Adam's work in the conservation of seahorses, one particular encounter with a student touched his heart

The incident began when a student from USM came to Adam on a quest to find seahorses in Penang. Usually, this would be a fool's errand, as the pollution levels of the sea in Penang make it impossible to find seahorses.

Adam recounted their journey, sharing, "It started off like looking for a needle in a haystack. We scoured through various paperwork and manuscripts, and even checked with historical museums to gain a better understanding on where these seahorses reside.

"After all the hard work, we decided to scuba dive at one particular point in North Penang, and that's where we saw it, clear as day — seahorses, in Penang!"

Besides their role in the ecosystem, seahorses hold significance in various communities and cultures around the world

There are areas where seahorses are displayed as sculptures, and even hung outside homes to ward off evil! Certain communities even turn seahorses into powder to be dabbed into skin to avoid and heal eczema.

Adam stressed that the conservation efforts are not about making drastic changes, but about getting everyone involved and finding common ground

Save Our Seahorses Malaysia urges the rakyat to learn and be involved, be it physically or virtually. It can be as simple as joining one of their programmes to be a scientist or marine biologist for the day, and find out what you can do to help these special sea creatures.

Dr Adam also shared that volunteers don't need to be science experts. 

"Just tap into your expertise and offer help any way you can. A non-profit organisation (NGO) needs people of different expertise to sustain itself. Everyone's voice and opinion matters," he said.

And they're not just looking for monetary support from state governments and decision holders

Adam told SAYS that even though they always welcome funding, it doesn't just have to be monetary support. They are also open to the idea of being given platforms so they can spread more awareness about their initiatives.

Saving the seahorses means saving the sea. The seahorse is the mascot. If we protect the seahorses and where they live, we are ultimately protecting all the marine life that share the same home.
Adam Lim

To find out more about Save Our Seahorses Malaysia and their activities, you can look through their official Facebook page

All this month, SAYS will be featuring inspiring stories of extraordinary Malaysian changemakers in collaboration with Wiki Impact

Wiki Impact is an online platform dedicated to the impact industry. They share stories and data on issues that matter, highlighting impact-driven organisations and changemakers on the ground. Categories include poverty alleviation, social justice, gender equality, healthcare and education for all, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, impact influencers, and more!

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Image via SAYS

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