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Octopus Farm Closes Following Investigation

by | Sep 8, 2023

A Hawaiian day octopus observes visitors during a tour at Kanaloa Octopus Farm on the Big Island of Hawaii. The facility confines wild-caught octopuses alone in small tanks to perform breeding experiments on them for the octopus aquaculture industry. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, 2022.

Laura Lee Cascada / The Every Animal Project / We Animals

Kanaloa Octopus Farm on the Big Island of Hawaii has now permanently closed after the state decided not to renew the facility’s lease. This huge victory comes after months of pressure from animal advocates, media exposure and legal complaints in the wake of The Every Animal Project’s investigation, which exposed the supposed small-scale conservation research facility as a highly popular petting zoo that used tourist dollars to expand its octopus farming facility.

Photo and video: Laura Lee Cascada / The Every Animal Project

Written by: We Animals

“This victory directly affects the hundreds of octopuses who were captured and subjected to breeding experiments every year, countless bobtail squids who were allegedly being bred and sold at the facility, and hermit crabs and other small invertebrates being tested for suitability as feed for young octopuses. Moreover, it spares potentially thousands or even millions of Hawaiian day octopus lives, had the facility’s research led to the creation of a factory farming industry for this species.” – Laura Lee Cascada, Founder of The Every Animal Project

In 2022, The Every Animal Project Founder Laura Lee Cascada visited Kanaloa Octopus Farm to investigate the facility’s captive breeding program using Hawaiian day octopuses. The facility and its tour guides claimed to be researching octopus breeding for conservation purposes and sold tour tickets to fund this work. Laura’s investigation documented wild-caught Hawaiian day octopuses confined in small, barren tanks with just a small cave to hide in and a toy or two for enrichment.

A Hawaiian day octopus interacts with a few toys in a small, barren tank at Kanaloa Octopus Farm, which captures and conducts breeding experiments on octopuses for the aquaculture industry. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, 2022.

Laura Lee Cascada / The Every Animal Project / We Animals

Using State of Hawaii resources, including land and access to deep sea water, Kanaloa Octopus Farm has captured and attempted to breed hundreds of octopuses, a process that always ends in death for both male and female animals. At the time of the investigation, Kanaloa Octopus Farm had only succeeded in raising octopus to 13 days of age in captivity because of the complexities of the species. The investigation also revealed that the facility had long hoped to provide octopuses to the restaurant industry on the islands and was already engaged in commercial production of bobtail squids.

Rows of barren tanks at Kanaloa Octopus Farm in Hawaii each confine a single octopus who was caught from the wild. The facility conducts breeding experiments on Hawaiian day octopuses for the aquaculture industry. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, 2022. Laura Lee Cascada / The Every Animal Project / We Animals

Rows of barren tanks at Kanaloa Octopus Farm in Hawaii each confine a single octopus who was caught from the wild. The facility conducts breeding experiments on Hawaiian day octopuses for the aquaculture industry. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, 2022.

Kanaloa Octopus Farm is the only octopus farm in the United States. The facility conducts breeding experiments on the Hawaiian day octopus for the aquaculture industry. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, 2022. Laura Lee Cascada / The Every Animal Project / We Animals

Kanaloa Octopus Farm is the only octopus farm in the United States. The facility conducts breeding experiments on the Hawaiian day octopus for the aquaculture industry. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, 2022.

The lives of octopuses has gained much public interest in recent years: the Oscar-winning documentary, My Octopus Teacher, explored the fascinating lives of these animals, leaving audiences with new perspectives on their sensitivity and intelligence. At the same time, however, we are learning how wild octopus populations are being threatened as food industries around the globe respond to a growing market demand for octopus meat, which in turn is leading to increased pressure to farm octopuses in captivity.

A Hawaiian day octopus reaches for a visitor's hand during a tour at Kanaloa Octopus Farm on the Big Island of Hawaii. The facility confines wild-caught octopuses alone in small tanks to perform breeding experiments on them for the aquaculture industry. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, 2022. Laura Lee Cascada / The Every Animal Project / We Animals

A Hawaiian day octopus reaches for a visitor’s hand during a tour at Kanaloa Octopus Farm on the Big Island of Hawaii. The facility confines wild-caught octopuses alone in small tanks to perform breeding experiments on them for the aquaculture industry. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, 2022.

A covered tank confines a female Hawaiian day octopus, recently captured from the ocean, at Kanaloa Octopus Farm. The facility conducts octopus breeding experiments for the aquaculture industry. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, 2022. Laura Lee Cascada / The Every Animal Project / We Animals

A covered tank confines a female Hawaiian day octopus, recently captured from the ocean, at Kanaloa Octopus Farm. The facility conducts octopus breeding experiments for the aquaculture industry. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, 2022.

A comprehensive report from Compassion in World Farming sets out the main reasons why octopus farming should not be permitted, highlighting the serious environmental and animal welfare problems associated with it.

“Factory farming practices restrict animals’ natural behaviours and lead to untold suffering, regardless of species. Octopuses’ exceptional characteristics make them uniquely unsuitable for intensive farming.” — Compassion In World Farming

A tour guide pushes a Hawaiian day octopus back under the water inside a small barren tank during a tour at Kanaloa Octopus Farm, which confines wild-caught octopuses in small tanks to perform breeding experiments on them for the aquaculture industry. The tour guide explains that this male octopus has previously escaped his tank and is again trying to climb out. The tour guide reaches for a cover to close up his tank and prevent his escape. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, 2022.

Laura Lee Cascada / The Every Animal Project / We Animals​​

The outcome of this recent investigation at Kanaloa Octopus Farm marks an important milestone in the local and state-level efforts taking place around the rise of octopus farming, placing advocates one step forward in their efforts to raise awareness of cephalopod sentience and welfare.

Photo and video: Laura Lee Cascada / The Every Animal Project

Written by: We Animals

Explore more visuals from this investigation via our stock platform, which offers 30,000+ free images and videos of animal issues around the globe.