Ocean Rider, Inc., a 3-acre aqua farm near Kailua-Kona, is the only seahorse farm in the United States.
Here you will find the only living gene bank of live seahorses in the world. In the facility’s new aquarium, you’ll see seahorse communities — and a few sea dragons — practicing their unique lifestyle in an environment protected from the increasing risks of the open sea.
More than 25 species of these graceful, multi-colored creatures are available at the farm. They’re not there to put on a floor show or to be fattened up and sold for pupus.
Not by a long shot.
Seahorses are an endangered species. Ocean Rider, owned and operated by a pair of biologists, raises them to be sold as pets.
Seahorses come in assorted sizes and colors from less than an inch to about 10 inches tall. They have the ability to change colors, they give birth to fully formed babies, they breed frequently and prolifically, and they don’t object to one-on-one encounters in the palm of your hand.
The stars of fairy tales and legends from Greek mythology, seahorses are visually stunning and their biology is extraordinary. For example, the male is the only animal that gives birth to babies. They are named for the fact that their heads look like horses, they swim upright and prefer a monogamous lifestyle.
Though there are more than 30 known species of seahorses, they are disappearing from the world’s oceans. Their rate of survival in the wild is considerably less than in captivity.
Millions of seahorses, for example, are taken from the wild, dried and sold by the kilo for use in alternative medicines.
Ocean Rider offers guided tours Monday through Friday at noon and 2 p.m. The private, independent facility is located about 1.2 miles south of the Kona International Airport.