Kanaloa Octopus Farm no longer operating out of Hawai‘i Ocean Science Technology Park

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Photo Courtesy: Kanaloa Octopus Farm

Once accused of being a petting zoo for illegally acquired day octopuses, the Kanaloa Octopus Farm has shut down its West Hawai‘i research facility.

The closure occurred after the Natural Energy Laboratory Hawai‘i Authority did not renew the octopus farm’s annual lease at the state-operated Hawai‘i Ocean Science Technology Park at Keahole Point.

“They outgrew us,” said Greg Barbour, the state agency’s executive director.

The park, he said, is primarily a space for startups. The Kanaloa Octopus Farm had 20 cephalopods when its lease was not renewed.

Farm owner Jake Conroy confirmed that the lease for their facility came to an end and that they would embark on a new chapter of the company.


Renaming his operation Kanaloa Octopus Research Center — Conroy plans to continue his mission of educating the public on octopuses through private offshore tours out of Kailua-Kona starting in September. The adventures will focus on observing octopus in its natural habitat, according to Conroy.

It was a win for animal advocates who had been pushing for its closure for years.

“We’re relieved that [Kanaloa Octopus Farms’] days of capturing and confining octopuses to barren touch tanks are through and hope this sends a clear message that cephalopod farms have no place in a society that respects animals,” said Rachel Mathews, Acting Clinic Director of Harvard Law School’s Animal Law & Policy Clinic.

“Kudos to the many advocates who spoke out against this octopus petting zoo, particularly our clients For the Fishes and Mike Nakachi.”

Barbour said Kanaloa Octopus Farm, which began its lease with the park in 2016, was started as a research facility to study the life cycle on octopuses. But over the years, the facility became a unique tourist destination. People went through the 5,000-square-foot farm on a gravel lot on a guided tour not only learned about octopuses but also got to handle them.


Eventually, Barbour said, the number of visitors to the park was getting to be too much without proper parking or bathroom facilities.

“They were in a research campus and it’s not appropriate for eco-tourism,” Barbour said.

Conroy said the tours also addressed conservation and sustainability of the species.

“Octopuses face threats of overfishing as local and global consumption increases. Given these pressures and climate change, we wanted to be part of a solution to ensure the long-term viability of these animals for future generations,” Conroy said.

Some members of the public didn’t see the farm that way.


Earlier this year, state agencies received several complaints that the aquaculture research facility was in possession and breeding the day octopus — a regulated aquatic life species. A cease and desist letter was issued by state’s Division of Aquatic Resources.

In July, the coalition of Harvard Law School’s Animal Law & Policy Clinic, Hawaiʻi-based For the Fishes and Moku o Keawe cultural practitioner Mike Nakachi asked the Natural Energy Laboratory Hawai‘i Authority not to renew the farm’s upcoming lease stating the facility was “a petting zoo that has likely illegally acquired and possessed dozens of reef-dwelling day octopuses for paid tourist interactions.”

In February, Conroy said most of the octopuses at the farm came from local fishermen who would otherwise sell them for use as bait. He also said they didn’t catch octopuses and did not release them back into the wild.

“Our octopuses are typically injured animals that others don’t want,” Conroy said. “We feed them and care for them, allowing them to recover.”

Conroy said he is no longer in possession of the octopuses that were at the farm. Out of respect for the privacy of the party who took the farm’s octopuses, he said he would not be sharing anything about them.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a full-time reporter for Pacific Media Group. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.

Tiffany can be reached at
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