Monday, February 23, 2015

The Most Romantic Tale in the Sea - And a Conservation Success Story!

phhhhhhhhhhhh phhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that's me blowing the dust off my blog. It's not that I've been entirely lazy. I'm 'writing' book two which mostly involves banging my head against my desk, but either way it's left my blog a little dusty.

I've returned to share a tale about the most romantic fish in the sea and the people who are helping to save this species from extinction because it's dangerously close. In fact, the seahorse is now listed by CITES as an endangered species and is on the brink of extinction.

Those people are the couple who passionately started Ocean Rider Seahorse farm in Kona, Hawai'i in 1998. I recently visited their seahorse farm to see radical conservation in action and left inspired by their conservation success story.

Up until recently, approximately 1,000,000 wild seahorses annually were taken from the sea for the pet store trade. That number has been dramatically reduced as people are now buying sustainable seahorses from Ocean Rider.
Seahorses are incredibly romantic - and monogamous. Once they choose a partner, they are together for life, as in never out of sight from one another. The male carries the babies and out of the 1000 or so he delivers, maybe one will survive, making this species ability to survive human consumption precarious at best.
On average, a wild seahorse will survive in a home aquarium for two weeks. Why such a short life span, when in the wild they can live for 20+ years? Because unlike humans, who reach for the nearest tub of Ben and Jerry's when heartbroken, seahorses starve themselves to death without their soul mate.
Seahorses born and raised at Ocean Rider seahorse farm grow up surrounded by many other seahorses and are adaptable to meeting new friends.  These farmed seahorses can live for a long time in an aquarium; in fact, some of their original horses from 1998 are still alive today in their respective new homes.

Not only does Ocean Rider keep wild seahorses in the ocean, they also help protect our fragile oceans and coral reefs from keeping the demand out of the sea.

Seahorses are also used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and sadly, 50% of the wild seahorse population disappeared from 1990 - 1995. If you just felt your heart break a little, you're not alone. The bright side though is there are people making a BIG positive impact, people like Ocean Rider. If you're in Kona, pay them a visit; you'll even get to hold a seahorse. This model can be used for many species to help protect the wild population - lots of opportunity for entrepreneurs to make a positive impact. 

From the Ocean Rider website:
Our story has now become a model as to the difference a few people, a good idea, and a small aqua-farm can make in  protecting and reducing the pressure on our coral reefs and sea grass beds.  The technology developed here for the culture of seahorses is transferrable to the culture of other exotic marine fish from the coral reefs to the deep sea paving a way to greatly reduce the amount of wild  fish taken out of  our ocean. It is our belief that we can bring our oceans back to the level of health and productivity seen at the turn of the century by using this technology combined with conservation solutions that are available to us all.  

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