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“Fantastical Fishes” are Focus of International Conference at UT and the Florida Aquarium

Published: May 12, 2017
SyngBio is the definitive global meeting for syngnathid species, and only happens once every three years.

Some of the most mythical, fascinating, fantastic fishes — including seadragons, pipehorses and seahorses — live in the Tampa Bay estuary. This is your chance to learn about them.

Join more than 100 marine scientists and conservationists from more than 20 countries in understanding and protecting the unique biology of syngnathid fishes (seahorses, pipefishes, pipehorses and seadragons) at SyngBio2017, which is being held collaboratively at The Florida Aquarium and The University of Tampa and co-hosted by Project Seahorse, May 14–19.

The public and media may be especially interested in the following events:

    1) Scientific Storytelling, Monday, May 15, at 7 p.m., The Florida Aquarium. Scientists share their stories of wonder, intrigue and discovery from their work with magical creatures — seahorses, pipefishes and sea dragons. Listen to Richard Smith, Ph.D., professional photographer and diver, talk about his work with pygmy seahorses, the tiniest on the planet. Other scientists will also share their experiences with these mythical animals and the sometimes perilous conditions in which they work. This event is made possible thanks to the support of the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation, supporters of seahorse and marine conservation in Florida’s Biscayne National Park. Register to attend at

    2) “Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Tampa Bay: Twenty-five Years in 25 Minutes,” Tuesday, May 16, at 1 p.m., Vaughn Center, UT. Nanette O’Hara, outreach coordinator for the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, will provide a brief synopsis of the Tampa Bay restoration story — from the bad old days to its present status as an international success story for locally driven restoration, and home to many seahorses.

    3) Student Poster Session, Tuesday, May 16, at 7:30 p.m., Vaughn Center, UT. A dozen UT students will present their research on seahorses and pipefishes alongside other students, academics and scientists from other institutions.

    4) iSeahorse Training Workshop, Wednesday, May 17, 5–6:30 p.m., Cass Science Building, UT. Are you interested in helping seahorses? iSeahorse is a tool for seahorse science and conservation. Join scientists for a free iSeahorse training workshop.

The conference will feature scientific lectures, technical sessions and workshops led by the world’s leading syngnathid experts. A selection of these include:

  • “Acoustic signatures and sound producing mechanisms in syngnathid fishes”
  • “Using artificial structures in the conservation of an endangered seahorse species”
  • “Leafy seadragon courting based on moon phases”
  • “Gaining insights into seahorse behaviour using GoPro cameras”
  • “Current and future distribution of Lined seahorse in the climate change scenario”

SyngBio is the definitive global meeting for syngnathid species, and only happens once every three years.

For a full conference schedule or to register, go to

The conference is hosted by UT and co-hosted by Project Seahorse (based at The University of British Columbia, Canada and the Zoological Society of London, UK). The platinum sponsors are UT, Project Seahorse and The Florida Aquarium.

For more information, contact Heather Masonjones, conference co-chair and UT professor of biology, at or (813) 257-3801. Follow the conference on Twitter and Facebook at @projectseahorse #FantasticalFishes #SyngBio2017.