First time species has been spotted so far inland

The species at the heart of much conservation controversy has been discovered higher up the River Thames than ever before.

The juvenile short-snouted seahorse was spotted during a routine fisheries survey at Greenwich.

A seahorse has never been found so far inland in the UK and its age suggests that the creature is breeding in the river.

Emma Barton, Environment Agency fisheries officer, said: ‘This is a really good sign that seahorse populations are not only increasing, but spreading to locations where they haven’t been seen before.

‘We routinely survey the Thames at this time of year and this is a really exciting discovery.

‘We hope that further improvements to water quality and habitat in the Thames will encourage more of these rare species to take up residence in the river.’

Seahorse numbers are a key factor in the possible introduction of several Marine Conservation Zones around the UK coastline.

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Picture courtesy of ZSL.