Photo: Bryce Groark
The “Velella” Research Project will receive national, primetime acclaim on Monday, September 17, in an episode of “Alien Deep”, the National Geographic series starring Bob Ballard, deep sea explorer and Titanic discoverer. The episode of “Alien Deep” is titled “Inner vs. Outer Space” and airs at 8 p.m. ET.
Ballard visited the Velella site in Hawaii last fall, when the research project was in full swing. The project tested an innovative form of open ocean mariculture, raising kampachi fish in a pen drifting on ocean currents three to 75 miles off the coast of the Big Island. The project was successfully completed in February 2012, with results far exceeding expectations.
Neil Anthony Sims, co-CEO of Kampachi Farms, which conducted the project, said, “The fish thrived in the research net pen far from shore, with phenomenal growth rates and superb fish health… and without any negative impact on water quality, the ocean floor, wild fish or marine mammals.”
The Velella project was partially funded by the Illinois soybean checkoff program, which is a major supporter of innovative aquaculture technology and feed research. The kampachi fish were fed a sustainable diet, with soy and other agricultural proteins replacing a significant amount of fishmeal and fish oil.
The project caught the attention of Ballard, who believes that farming the oceans is one solution to feeding the populace of earth. As these were the first farmed fish raised in U.S. federal waters, the Velella project represents a significant step forward in developing the open ocean aquaculture industry in the U.S.
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