Monday, May 28, 2007

Scientists study if sea-horses do boost SEX

Dona Paula: Indian scientists are hoping to discover once and for all if seahorses are an aphrodisiac, a myth that has made the creatures an endangered species. Seahorses have been eaten for more than 2,000 years and, as well as being a traditional way of improving sex-drive, are also thought to help respiratory problems. The National Institute of Oceanography in Goa is teaming up with the National Centre for Cell Sciences to try to unravel the mysteries of the unusual fish.

Seahorses range in size from 16 mm to 35 cm and are notable for being the only species in which males become “pregnant”. Raidurga Sreepada, a leading scientist at the NIO, said confirming the properties of one of world’s most complex living creatures will not only help the pharmaceutical sector but also help stamp out rampant poaching. Scientists say that once they establish seahorses’ properties, fishing communities and even poachers will be encouraged to set up hatcheries instead of taking them from the wild.

“They are being hunted since 342 BC and it is now the hottest recipe for traditional medicines of China, Korea and Thailand as an aphrodisiac, a drug against bronchial asthma and whooping caugh,” Sreepada said. Research will begin in February. The NIO estimates 20 million seahorses are traded across the world each year. “India is one of its largest clandestine exporters, shipping 1.3 million seahorses annually,” the NIO told the Central government in October while asking for funds.


One kilogram or about 100 dried seahorses fetch up to $200 in countries such as the United States which have large Chinese populations, it said. P.S. Parmeshwaran, NIO scientist for chemistry, said both China and Australia had done similar research, but the results had not been made public. “We intend to (make the findings public), as either way, we will help the seahorse population,” Sreepada added.

Source:Pratap Chakravarty