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Kona octopus farm to try rearing cephalopods sustainably

  • COURTESY SUSAN SCOTT

    A day octopus is seen on Oahu’s North Shore.

KAILUA-KONA >> A researcher is hoping to rear octopus sustainably on land along the Kona Coast at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority.

Jake Conroy, CEO and president of Kanaloa Octopus Farms, started the farm in August using his own money to lease the space near Keahole Point, West Hawaii Today reported.

“I believe there is a market,” said Conroy about the need for sustainably raised octopus. “Octopus are fascinating animals and almost all aquariums have them — and that’s just the ornamentals.”

Octopuses are a good selection for aquaculture because of their brief life cycles and prolific reproduction and growth rates. The kind that Conroy is using takes less than a year to reach maturity.

“One of the animals that has been on the radar for aquaculture is octopus,” said Conroy. “There’s a lot of potential for them and, hopefully, I can rear them and provide them to aquariums — I would love to be able to supply the markets with sustainable sources and hopefully move up to a scale to provide octopus for eating.”

Conroy plans to start offering tours of his facility to fund the work and additional research until things get up and running. It’s the first such commercial farm in Hawaii and the U.S., he said.

“Scientists have been breeding them, but there’s been no real, full-fledged farms,” Conroy said.

At the facility, Conroy has four animals to use for breeding purposes — two male and female daytime octopuses and one nighttime octopus. He hopes to have 10 specimens in the near future as more tanks for the animals arrive. He has been breeding hermit crabs collected from the coast to provide food for planktonic octopus paralarvae.

Conroy said he recently introduced a pair of the daytime octopuses and believes the two animals copulated.

“They were all over each other,” he said. “I think, I’m hoping she’ll be getting ready to lay some eggs.”

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