So how does it feel to have a sea horse grab your finger with its tail? Find out on a tour of Ocean Rider, an aquafarm on Hawaii’s Kona Coast that raises the fish, which normally inhabit warm seas, for home and public display.
More than 20,000 sea horses—the world’s largest collection—float about in huge tanks here. You’ll see newborns (tiny glittery specks) and old-timers in their ninth year, an impressive age: Wild sea horses live around two years. You’ll learn about the maternal males who give birth to babies—up to 1,000 at a time. And you can place frozen shrimp in a tank to hear the soft clicks sea horses emit while feeding.
At tour’s end, you’re invited to plunge your hand into the water. A sea horse’s grip can be surprisingly strong—you might have to tickle its belly to get it to let go. Hour-long tours are offered Monday to Friday, at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m.; reservations are required. Purchase tickets ($35) at www.seahorse.com  or call (808) 329-6840.
Photography by Matthew J. D’Avella
This article was first published in May 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information