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Saving the world, one seahorse at a time

In 1998, Carol and Craig Schmarr moved to the Big Island with the intention of saving the seahorse. The graceful sea creature, which is popular in the aquarium trade and is used in Asian medicines, is quickly disappearing in the wild. Today, the farm, located at Kona’s Natural Energy Laboratory, produces approximately 1,000 seahorses a month to customers all across the country, who are willing to pay $25 to $500 for individual animals. But their farm, Ocean Rider, is not a seahorse factory. Its animals, raised in the Big Island’s immaculate ocean water, are certified disease and pathogen free and are selectively bred, so they come in vivid colors not found in the wild. Also, since the Schmarrs teach their seahorses how to eat frozen food, the animals survive much longer in the home aquarium than wild-caught specimens.

photo: Leslie Leddo

• There are 33 species throughout the world. Ocean Rider breeds 13 different species of seahorses, the largest of which grows to 10 inches in length.
• The seahorse is the only animal in the animal kingdom in which the male has a true pregnancy. They are continually pregnant for most of their lifespan.
• A seahorse’s color changes according to its moods or its reaction to the surrounding environment.

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Hawaii Business,November