Sea horses seized in Sonora this week. Sea horses seized in Sonora this week.

Seized sea horses believed going to Asia

Over 4,000 dried specimens found. In Asia, they fetch over US $6,000 per kilo

Another protected species is being shipped out of Mexico to Asian markets where it commands high prices.

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Authorities have made two seizures in just two days of shipments of sea horses, or Hippocampus, likely bound for Asian countries where it sells for more than US $6,000 a kilogram.

The federal environmental protection agency, Profepa, seized 3,636 dried sea horses at the Tijuana airport after being tipped off about the shipment, which was unaccompanied by any documentation.

A second shipment was discovered by soldiers at a checkpoint on federal highway No. 2 between Sonoyta and San Luis Río Colorado in Sonora. The 674 specimens, which had also been dried, were found in a tractor-trailer believed heading for the Pacific coast.

Protected in Mexico and listed as a species requiring special protection, sea horses are found on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Mexico but their numbers have been declining.

The sea horse is a unique species of fish in several ways and until now it has been studied very little. But yesterday the journal Nature published the results of a study that sequenced the genomes of a sea horse species for the first time, unlocking some genetic secrets behind its oddities.

Among them: the males carry and give birth to babies, they swim upright and not horizontally, and they have horse-like heads, tube-like snouts and no teeth.

Another product of Mexico that is popular in Asia is the swim bladder of the totoaba, the fishing of which has severely depleted the vaquita porpoise, which is a bycatch of the totoaba.

Source: Excélsior (sp), Reforma (sp), Reuters (en)

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