Woman on lunchtime walk spots ‘insanely rare’ sea creature off UK coast, video shows

A woman in the United Kingdom encountered an “insanely rare” sea creature while out for a walk. A video shows the uncommon animal and its “poor swimming skills.”

Alicia Shephard was on a lunchtime walk along the Cornwall coast when she spotted a small seahorse in the shallows, the Cornwall Council said in an April 19 news release.

Shephard, a nature officer with the council, immediately recognized the animal as a long-snouted seahorse, “an insanely rare species to find,” she said in the release.

“(This) isn’t something most people will ever see in their lifetime,” Shephard said.

A video shows the tan-brown seahorse hovering above the sand. The animal appears to be holding onto something and bopping along with the current.

Seahorse found in Cornish estuary from Cornwall Council on Vimeo.

Long-snouted seahorses, also known as spiny seahorses or Hippocampus guttulatus, are one of only two seahorses found in the U.K., according to The Wildlife Trust. These seahorses can reach 8 inches in length and have a “fleshy ‘mane’” and “longer snout” than other species.

Long-snouted seahorses “live in shallow coastal waters and are pretty poor swimmers, relying on their prehensile tail to cling onto seaweed and seagrass to stop themselves being swept away,” the organization said.

Environmental degradation and the seahorse’s “poor swimming skills” have made it increasingly difficult for these distinctive sea animals to survive in the wild, the Cornwall council said. Their population has “undergone rapid declines.”

Until Shephard’s sighting, long-snouted seahorses had only been seen in Cornwall seven times in the past 10 years, officials said.

“I can’t stress enough how special it is to see a seahorse thriving in Cornwall waters,” Shephard said in the release.

Environmental officials attributed the recent sighting to the success of ongoing nature restoration efforts.

Officials did not disclose the exact location of the recent seahorse sighting in order to protect the animal. Cornwall is a region along the southwestern tip of the U.K. and a roughly 260-mile drive southwest of London.

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