Thursday, July 31, 2008

Saving the planet, one seahorse at a time

This post has nothing to do with helicopters. I mentioned the other day that I went to a seahorse farm. First, let me give you a little background.

Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) is a method for generating electricity by exploiting the temperature difference between cold, deep water and warm, shallow water.

Since Hawaii has both high energy costs and deep ocean water, years ago the government installed an OTEC facility in hopes of providing an alternative energy source. They plumbed pipes to pull cold water from hundreds of feet down off the Kona coast.

The system worked, but it wasn't very efficient. It cost them 10 cents to generate the energy they could sell for 11 cents.

Enter private aquaculturists, who recognized the value of this deep, nutrient-rich water for farming sea life. Desperate for an alternative revenue source for their alternative energy plant, the government began leasing land near the facility, as well as access to the water.

Today, Keohole Point beside Kona International Airport boasts a sprawling community of aquaculture companies that grow just about everything you can imagine: abalone, mussels, microalgae, lobsters, and even sushi-grade yellowtail.

One of these companies is Ocean Rider, Inc., which operates the only seahorse farm in the world. They sell farm-raised, domesticated seahorses directly to home aquarium owners. Their business has deeply undercut the poaching of wild seahorses worldwide, giving this endangered creature a fighting chance for a future.

Incidentally, seahorses mate for life, and separating them from their mate increases the probability of illness or death. For this reason, Ocean Rider only sells seahorses in mated pairs.

If you're ever in Kona, I highly recommend the tour at Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm. It was awesome. If you want to buy their seahorses, you can at

Here's a movie of some of their seahorses stampeding for a cloud of food that was dropped in the tank. If you look closely, you can see some of the mated pairs holding each other's tails, which they often do.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Monsieur Sibley!!! Looks and sounds like you are having a fantastic experience! Lets see a video of you flying that helicopter next time! I miss you!!