Seahorses and pipefish face a variety of threats. Most members of the family Syngnathidae are weak swimmers. During heavy storms and hurricanes, they are washed ashore or exhaust themselves swimming. Seahorses and pipefish depend upon specific habitats for camouflage, their primary defense mechanism. Unfortunately, all of the habitats seahorses and pipefish call home are facing destruction. Pollution, rising sea temperatures, and other factors are destroying coral reef, mangroves and seagrass beds at an alarming rate.
Seahorses are economically important in Asia for their use in eastern medicine. Traditionally, dried seahorses are used to treat a wide array of ailments including asthma, infertility, and lethargy. They are also sold as souvenirs to tourists. While their use for medicine may be arguably acceptable (when done sustainably), the sale of seahorses as curios is ridiculous. Harvest of seahorses for both of these markets has lead to overfishing and a drastic drop in seahorse numbers worldwide. An estimated 20 million seahorses are fished each year, and it has been reported that seahorse populations around the planet have plummeted by as much as 50% over the last 5 years.