Seahorse, which has a unique appearance and exhibits male pregnancy, is a useful component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). With the growing demand for TCM, vast amounts of seahorses are harvested from the wild every year and traded internationally. This study investigated 58 dried seahorse samples collected from 23 Chinese herbal medicine stores across Taiwan using molecular forensics. Results showed that eight seahorse species were present in the Taiwan TCM market. Among them, Knysna seahorse (Hippocampus capensis) has an endangered status according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, while the West African seahorse (Hippocampus algiricus), tiger tail seahorse (Hippocampus comes), thorny seahorse (Hippocampus histrix), great seahorse (Hippocampus feelloggi), yellow seahorse (Hippocampus feuda), hedgehog seahorse (Hippocampus spinosissimus), and three-spot seahorse (Hippocampus trimaculatus) have vulnerable status.
- Iucn red list
- Molecular forensics