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Ocean Rider Releasing Seahorses?

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  • Offline TamiW
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Ocean Rider Releasing Seahorses?

« posted: 4 years ago »
I stumbled upon a video in my daily feed about ocean rider, and it sounds like they're going to be releasing seahorses into the wild. This article confirms it:

Quote
"The most expensive seahorses  you can buy from the Kona-based Ocean Rider aqua farm aren’t the ones you take home.

For $2,500 you can purchase a pair of seahorses raised at the farm located at Kona’s Natural Energy Laboratory to be released into the wild. The first pair was put into waters at an undisclosed location off Oahu in December to help replenish the world’s seahorse population, which is diminishing due to the aquarium and medicinal trades."

I am extremely disappointed to hear this. There are so many problems with releasing seahorses into the wild. Conservation groups are moving away from captive releases for a whole host of reasons. Some critically endangered populations are the exception, but for the most part, raising in captivity and releasing is problematic.

One big problem with this news is that Ocean Rider is releasing seahorses they've raised, and in the video, they claim to not have taken any new ones from the wild since their foundation. That suggests that they have a population with limited genetics. There is a big risk of limiting the wild gene pool if enough are released. Then there is outbreeding depression, which may come from maladapted traits from seahorses that have been bred over generation to be adapted to captive conditions. And there is a whole host of disease issues when releasing seahorses into the wild.

Seahorse conservation, heck, any fish conservation should be about protecting what's already there. And there is no indication that there is a problem with the population of seahorses in Hawaii.

I'm even wondering what they're releasing.

I send their foundation a message asking for more details:
"Greetings,
I was reading about your seahorse release program. Can you provide some technical detail about the program? I'm curious to know what species you are releasing. I'm also curious how the location was selected for release and what sort of populations studies were done to determine suitable sites. My understand is that most conservation groups are moving away from releasing captive bred animals, so I'm curious as to how your plan came about and any other details you can give."


We'll see if I get any answer back but I'm doubtful I will. Last time I contacted them regarding their foundation, I asked for information about how their money was allocated and how they are connected to the for-profit Ocean Rider and never got an answer back
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  • Offline TamiW
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Re: Ocean Rider Releasing Seahorses?

« Reply #1 posted: 4 years ago »
I should add, this sets a HORRIBLE example for people. Ocean Rider has primarily promoted their seahorses to the aquarium market. There is a problem in the aquarium world where well meaning but ill informed people release fish into the wild. Seahorses are no different - in the past year I've had two people contact me through various means to tell me they are releasing seahorses they raised into the wild. Each time, I tried to set them on the right course by explain what a bad idea it is, and hoped it helped.

I'm just incredibly disappointed.
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Re: Ocean Rider Releasing Seahorses?

« Reply #2 posted: 4 years ago »
This should be reposted on different forums. It is a very sad day indeed. I am pretty sure Pete G has written against this on their forum, so really surprise that is happening.

Kind Regards,

Tim
  • Offline ejbaer
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Re: Ocean Rider Releasing Seahorses?

« Reply #3 posted: 4 years ago »
Wow.....this is really disappointing and counterproductive for conservation!  Sad to see this kind of action being taken by an influential group.  They would be right by selling them into the stores and avoiding consumer take of wild animal, not risking wild populations with poor genetics and disease.
  • Offline JimWelsh
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Re: Ocean Rider Releasing Seahorses?

« Reply #4 posted: 4 years ago »
Someone please correct me if I'm wrong about any of the following but:  1)  The only seahorse species I've seen Ocean Rider actually have listed as available for the last several years is H. erectus, and 2)  H. erectus is not a Hawaiian native species.  If I am correct, then they are releasing H. erectus, an alien species off of Oahu.  *facepalm*
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  • Offline TamiW
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Re: Ocean Rider Releasing Seahorses?

« Reply #5 posted: 4 years ago »
I would hope they wouldn't be that stupid, but that was my first thought too. But they are selling H. fisheri; which I would hope means that's what they're releasing. The problem is that H. fisheri come from deep oceans, and are pelagic at night, rising with the plankton. But they claim they are monitoring the seahorses they are releasing, and I'm not sure how they can be doing that with H. fisheri. So I have no idea what they're letting go.

I'm really frustrated by the topic of releasing animals, because it it's generally a feel good thing that has no positive impact. There are exceptions, of course. The californian condor being one. But they have to be a population that's near or completely wiped out to have a positive benefit, and seahorses aren't there (thankfully).

I spend some time on their Seahorse Hawaii Foundation site, where they have a most unhelpful page about the release program and they do have H. fisheri pictured there. But the other seahorse they have pictured are H. erectus. They are claiming that they are also releasing in Tonga and Fiji. But the question comes back to, what are they releasing?

I've never been able to get a straight answer out of anyone at Ocean Rider, or their "Foundation". I would love for one of those charity review sites to take a closer look because I can't imagine they'd be any more transparent. I rewatched the video I posted and how Carol says they are the only farm that raises seahorses and her answer is so disingenuous. They're not the only farm that raises seahorses, and her clarification of claiming that other farms raise "clams and oysters." is weird and isn't really an important distinction.
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  • Offline ejbaer
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Re: Ocean Rider Releasing Seahorses?

« Reply #6 posted: 4 years ago »
who is okaying this practice?
  • Offline TamiW
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Re: Ocean Rider Releasing Seahorses?

« Reply #7 posted: 4 years ago »
That is an excellent question. I suspect they have the go ahead with the support of government officials because they are a great tourism asset.  But, I'm thinking that since getting answers from ocean rider is like pulling teeth, I might be able to find the government department who they are working with to get clearer answers.
  • H. erectus, H. comes, H. kuda, H. zosterae, Doryrhamphus excisus, Bryx dunckeri, Corythoichthys flavofasciatus
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Re: Ocean Rider Releasing Seahorses?

« Reply #8 posted: 3 years ago »
 We can release hundreds of horses for free but why, seems to me planting sea grass is a better idea, a lot of seahorse nonprofits are making claims, are they true? I don' know https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywpb4aRg1yA&list=UU894ZquQgHSUUHMJBepJ5UA
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