On Friday, 31 May, SIMS had the honour of welcoming the Federal Minister for the Environment and Water, the Honourable Tanya Plibersek MP, to our facilities. During her visit, Minister Plibersek participated in the release of 100 endangered White’s seahorses into the waters of Chowder Bay, a key event in SIMS’s Sydney Seahorse Project. The Minister was hosted by a team of SIMS staff and executives, our colleagues at the Harbour Trust, and a cohort of trainee Indigenous rangers from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (Metro LALC) currently participating in a capacity-building program at SIMS. This release is a prelude to the release of an additional 400 seahorses scheduled for June in Balmoral and Gamay (Botany Bay).

White’s seahorses, primarily found along Australia’s east coast, are at risk due to habitat loss and degradation. As a priority species under Labor’s Threatened Species Action Plan, their recovery is critical. The SIMS Sydney Seahorse Project, in collaboration with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, strives to breed and reintroduce hundreds of these seahorses into Sydney’s bays and harbours. This initiative was recently bolstered by a $359,000 investment from the Government’s $24 million Saving Native Species program, which the Minister was able to announce during her visit.

Minister Plibersek passes a bag of seahorses to divers for release
Minister Plibersek poses with the SIMS team, members of the Harbour Trust, and trainee Indigenous rangers from the Metro LALC after the release.

A sustained partnership with the NSW Department of Primary Industries will see another cohort of captive-bred “super seahorses” released at new locations within Sydney Harbour. Notably, a release in Gamay (Botany Bay) is planned in collaboration with local Traditional Owners, the Gamay Rangers. This partnership will not only help boost the White’s seahorse population in Gamay but also promote a two-way knowledge exchange between SIMS and the Gamay Rangers in our shared commitment to ocean stewardship.

Minister Plibersek’s visit was a valuable opportunity to showcase the tangible outcomes of the Government’s investment in the Saving Native Species program. Her engagement was much appreciated as she asked insightful questions and actively participated in the seahorse release, donning a raincoat and handing seahorses to our divers.

As we anticipate the upcoming releases at Balmoral Beach and Gamay later this month, we remain committed to advancing the conservation of this iconic species and look forward to opportunities to engage our community in our efforts.