An active seahorse farm is currently saving Tasmania's handfish from extinction.
Of the 50 known species of seahorses in the world, 17 are endemic to Australia. They’re some of the most beautiful and mysterious variations, from the enchanting zebra seahorse that lives in the coral reefs of northern Australia to the majestic leafy seadragon that hides in the seagrass along the southern coast.
Seahorse World began as a research project at the University of Tasmania into the life cycle of the Tasmanian pot-bellied seahorse. The project blossomed into a breeding farm and then a business, which officially opened in 1998 and supplied China’s holistic medicine industry with a cheaper, more eco-friendly alternative to catching wild seahorses.
With the introduction of Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, Seahorse World became the only Australian breeding farm licensed to breed and export captive seahorses, allowing the business to reinvent itself as both a tourist destination and the main supplier of seahorses for some of the largest aquariums in the world.
Along with breeding, Seahorse World is highly active in marine conservation, most notably in its efforts to bring the red handfish back from the brink of extinction. Found only in Tasmania, the red handfish walks rather than swims, using its fins to crawl along the seabed. Marine biologists estimate that there are only about 100 adults left in the wild. In 2017, the National Handfish Recovery Team approached Seahorse World and asked for their support by housing the first clutch of red handfish babies born in captivity. The breeding program was a success; the handfish pups survived and were released into the wild as juveniles.
Seahorse World continues its handfish breeding and research program and aims to spread awareness further abroad about the plight of the handfish.
Know Before You Go
Seahorse World is open 7 days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. during peak season (December to April), and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the off-season (May to November). Tickets are $23.50 AUD/adults, $10 AUD/children.
Tours are guided and guests are taken through a seahorse aquarium, a working seahorse breeding farm, and finish at the touch pools.
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