CRAIG Hawkins’ interest in nature sparked when he was at Maitland Boys High School in the 1980s.
Now, he is the proud managing director of Seahorse World, Tasmania, where an exceptionally rare event recently occurred.
The facility’s weedy sea dragon achieved a successful egg transfer in captivity.
It’s a huge feat in breeding marine creatures and has only happened a few times throughout the world.
“These guys have been raised from young in captivity and so they had to learn, and it may turn out that all of them are infertile,” Mr Hawkins said.
“But, that’s okay, they’ve learned part of the process and what’s involved and hopefully they’ll do it again.”
Mr Hawkins said there were a number of factors that could influence fish breeding results.
“The health of the fish is primary, so the egg transfer is a good indicator they’re healthy,” he said.
Other factors include water temperature, changes in water temp and changes in pressure systems.
“Interestingly, we’ve had this heat change after a month of dry weather and fires and then it basically occurred about the same time the rain hit,” the business owner said.
Is it a coincidence? Mr Hawkins hasn’t looked into the situation in detail yet but one thing is for sure, the team is doing something right.
But the facility’s work with the uncommon doesn’t end there.
“We’ve got the honour at the moment of holding the world’s rarest fish, which is a Tasmanian fish called the red hand fish,” Mr Hawkins said.
“It’s estimated it’s down to its last 40 to 80 individuals in the wild.
“We offered our services and CSIRO and the Tasmanian Government were very pleased to give us a shot. Our gig is to try to breed them and raise them.
“We bred another fish, the spotted hand fish, which is also very rare and we’ve raised young. Now were trying the red hand fish and we’ve got 15 babies.”
Mr Hawkins hasn’t ventured to the Hunter since last summer, but it seems it will always be a special place for him.
The school prefect graduated Maitland Boys High in 1985 ready to pursue his love of environmental sciences.
“While I was in high school at Maitland I did work experience in Cessnock Forestry Office and then picked a job up at Gloucester in the Barrington Tops,” he said.
“Thank you to Maitland Boys High for educating me so I could breed fish and run a business.”