One of the top things I wanted to do on my recent trip to the Big Island was to tour the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm in Kailua-Kona. (In fact, I blogged about how I wanted to visit this farm a year ago.) This seahorse farm was the first one in the world and is the only one in the US.
The guided tour lasts about an hour. Our tour guide was a biologists and she shared many facts about seahorses as toured the various tanks of seahorses to watch them swim, hook tails and dance. We even had an opportunity to have a seahorse hook their tail around our fingers.
Here are some of the interesting seahorse facts I learned on the tour:
- Seahorses are nearing extinction. They’ve been over harvested for two reasons.
- Some cultures believe that seahorses have medicinal qualities.
- Aquarium pets – the problem here is most ocean harvested seahorses die within two weeks. The farm raised seahorses are much better suited for being an aquarium pet.
- Seahorses mate for life.
- The male seahorse fertilizes and carries the eggs. He actually becomes pregnant.
- Seahorses are voracious eaters and hunters. They enjoy hunting their food.
I thought the tour was interesting, though possibly a tad bit pricey at $35 per person. Children ages 4-7 pay $25. (One point to consider about the price of the tour is that the money goes towards research and development of seahorse aqua-culture and preventing extinction.) There were about 25 people in total on our tour, but it didn’t seem to be too crowded. The tour guide used a megaphone so everyone could hear what she was saying. *Update* — book online, 24 hours or more in advanced to save $5 per ticket.
Here is a video with clips from our tour:
If you’d like to take this tour, here are some tips for visiting this farm:
- Tours are offered weekdays at 10am, noon, and 2pm.
- You should call ahead and reserve a space. Their phone number is 808-329-6840.
- Wear comfortable shoes, a hat, and sunscreen.
- The farm is located just about a mile South of the Kona Airport on the Natural Energy Lab Road, which is a much longer road than it appears. Here are directions.