Let me start by saying that finding this shrimp for sale has been extremely difficult up to this point, especially outside Hawaii. Before Petshrimp.com started offering truly captive-bred specimen to the public there were NO captive-bred animals available at all. Despite that, some not-so-honest or just uninformed companies and individuals claimed (and some are still claiming) that their animals were (are) "aquacultured" or "captive-bred" although they were/are clearly taken from habitats in the wild.
Keeping any pet should be a responsible hobby. It is in the best interest of both the animals, nature and the hobbyist that wild animals and their habitats are protected, the animals’ numbers in the wild are not depleted, and captive-breeding populations are established. Ideally, all pet animals in the trade should be truly captive-bred. That way, the impact on these animals’ habitats is effectively zero and the species and its habitat in the wild are protected for future generations.
In the case of the Supershrimp it is especially important to keep wild animals where they are…in the wild. This species ONLY occurs on the Hawaiian islands, and even there most of its habitat is already gone…destroyed by humans who "developed" the land. Who knows how much longer this species can hang on. There are very few legally protected habitats left, and even those are regularly visited by poachers who catch these shrimp by the tens of thousand to illegally sell them to various companies both inside and outside the US, who market them, mostly, in tiny, sealed glass or plastic containers. Some individuals and companies who happen to have either natural or artificial (i.e. they dug a hole in the ground on top of the Supershrimps’ underground habitat) anchialine pools on their property claim that they are "aquaculturing" this species, which is uninformed at best or intentionally misleading at worst. The reality is that the Hawaiian islands are made up of very porous rock, so the anchialine pools, natural or artificial, are usually interconnected with each other and the underground habitat of these shrimp. Hence, as these people catch shrimp from the pools on their land, other shrimp from other, possibly protected pools, migrate to these pools to replace the ones caught. So, there is no aquaculturing at all going on….none whatsoever. The sad truth is that ALL Opae ula shrimp sold anywhere on the planet (except for the odd hobbyist out there who happens to sell some offspring…but that’s a once in a blue moon occurrence) are wild-caught shrimp, and purchasing them contributes towards the depletion of this precious natural resource.
The following article published on the website of the National Science Foundation featuring our friend Dr. Scott Santos from Auburn University, illustrates many of the points made above: