Ocean Rider Breeds Seahorses for the Wild and Your Aquarium
Hawaiian seahorse, Hippocampus hilonis
Leafy sea dragon, Phycodurus eques
Photos: Clyde Tamaru
The most expensive seahorses you can buy from the Kona-based Ocean Rider aqua farm aren’t the ones you take home.
For $2,500 you can purchase a pair of seahorses raised at the farm located at Kona’s Natural Energy Laboratory to be released into the wild. The first pair was put into waters at an undisclosed location off Oahu in December to help replenish the world’s seahorse population, which is diminishing due to the aquarium and medicinal trades.
When you “adopt” a seahorse, you get a statue of the graceful creature, a plaque in the Kona office and the chance to give it a name.
“Seahorses used to be everywhere in the world, but now they’re gone because of overfishing and pollution,” says Carol Cozzi-Schmarr, who founded the farm in 1998 with her husband, Craig Schmarr. “We want to create marine stewardship, where people become stakeholders of the marine life in their backyard.”
The farm produces about 1,000 seahorses a month for customers across the country, who pay anywhere from $75 for a very small pixie to $750 for a bright yellow sunfire.
All of its seahorses are certified disease and pathogen free and come in vivid colors not found in the wild. They are bred to survive on frozen shrimp and live longer than wild-caught specimens – up to 12 years.
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