Psychologists say that immersing yourself with a hobby is vital to your health. As it turned out, our hobbies help in relieving our stress, prevent us from forming bad habits, and aid in promoting mindfulness. But the activities that bring joy into our life can also make a huge difference in the life of others. Take the case of Roger Hanson, a retired teacher whose strong passion for diving led him into building a hidden sanctuary for the fortunate seahorses he had found.
According to the story that first appeared on the Los Angeles Times, the retired teacher has always dreamed of living by the beach. And after his unforgettable 10-second encounter with a 40-foot gray whale, there is no stopping him from fulfilling his dream. Years later, Hanson secured a job as a dedicated special education teacher in the Long Beach Public School System. He seized this opportunity and bought a van and parked it on the Ocean Boulevard to do the activity he loves the most- diving!
For almost 4 months, Hanson was living the dream. He lived by the beach, and he was diving every single day before he moved to Moreno Valley. Although it was short-lived, Hanson sure knew how to make the most out of this awesome experience. While he was living by the beach, Hanson showcased his creativity by building an underwater city out of discarded toys he found at the bottom of the bay. He fondly calls his masterpiece as “Littleville.”
Hanson made it a habit to check on his Littleville from time to time. In fact, last January 2016, while doing one of his usual rounds, Hanson had another cool encounter with a majestic sea creature- seahorse!
Having dived the area for over a thousand times, Hanson immediately knew that the bright orange seahorse does not belong there. Experts say that the seahorses along with others wound up there by riding an unusual current of warm water.
Months after spotting his first seahorse encounter, he was horrified to see more than 100 high school football players playing in the shallow waters. Afraid that the unknowing kids could endanger the seahorses, Hanson took it upon himself to protect the majestic sea creatures.
“I thought, I gotta do something, I gotta do something,” Hanson said.
The retired teacher remembered how he used to make ‘fish cribs,’ a makeshift miniature log cabin without roof created from a brush and twigs. Hanson figured out that he can do the same for his seahorse friends.
“So I said to myself, build them a city that’s deeper, where feet can’t get to it even at low tide,” Hanson recalled.
By July 2016, Hanson did not only give two pairs of seahorses a place to call home but also gave them lovely names. One was named “Daphne” from Greek mythology, and another was named “Kenny” after a proprietor of a local kayaking company. Another one was called “Bathsheba” from the Bible, and the other was named “Deep Blue” after a dive shop.
Since then, Hanson spends 2 hours trekking from his home in Moreno Valley to the industrial shoreline of Long Beach to see his precious “family” about every five days. On top of that, over the last 3 years, he has devoted most of his time in observing their behavior from dusk to dawn. And he also keeps a colorful and detailed record of his visits in a handmade logbook. To say that Hanson is a dedicated ‘father’ to these beautiful creatures is a bit of understatement.
“It feels like I’m reading a book, the book of their life, and I can’t put it down,” he shared.
Today, Roger check in on his seahorses together with equally amazing people who have the same hobby as him-Arnold and Fitzgerald.
“We call them our kids because we love them so much,” Arnold said.
To protect the sanctuary they built, Hanson and Arnold did not disclose the location of the seahorses to the public.
Although they do guide selected people to see their “kids,” they strictly ask them to remove GPS tags from the photos and to keep their lips tight about their location.
It’s nice to have a hobby that brings happiness, fulfillment, and meaning to our life. And it’s even greater to see a hobby making a positive impact on the life of others… like how Hanson did to the seahorses he built a paradise for.
See more photos and videos HERE.