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Rare sea horses get ready for Year of the Dragon

MINAMI-KYUSHU (ANN/THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN) – A sea horse aquaculture farm in Minami-Kyushu, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan is attracting tourists ahead of the Year of the Dragon because the Japanese word for sea horse is “tatsu no otoshigo,” which means “spawned baby dragon.”

Seahorses are also known for their unique ecology in which the female lays her eggs in a pouch on the male’s abdomen, and the male incubates and protects the embryo.

Shin Kato, 52, from Saitama Prefecture, who was drawn to these creatures, opened the farm, Seahorse House, in 2010, and ships them to aquariums and pet stores.

The business is unique in Japan. The farm keeps more than 10,000 sea horses of four species for display and sale. Recently, people have been visiting the facility one after another to take pictures for next year’s New Year cards.

Touring the facility would be free. The most popular sea horse for purchase is between 10 to 18 centimetres in length and costs between JPY5,000 and JPY7,000.

“Seahorses are delicate creatures, and their numbers are decreasing due to overfishing. I hope that next year’s Chinese zodiac sign will spark interest in them,” Kato said.

An aquaculture farm in Japan is raising sea horses in preparation for the Year of the Dragon. PHOTO: ANN/THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN
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