the Legacy continues…………………….
Gregory R. Mann, Ph.D. {ret.}

Sea Dragon

“Phycodurus eques”

The Sea Dragon is a small, delicate fish found in the tropical coastal waters of south and west Australia. Sea Dragons look similar to and are in fact closely related to Seahorses. There are 2 different species of Sea Dragon, the Leafy Sea Dragon and the Weedy Sea Dragon. Although both Sea Dragon species have a similar body shape and size, they are very different in appearance. The Leafy Sea Dragon is the master of camouflage and being able to hide itself so easily among the plants means that the Leafy is rarely eaten, despite having numerous potential predators. Sea Dragons hunt crustaceans, plankton, shrimp and even small fish, using their camouflage to their advantage. Sea Dragons have numerous natural predators in the southern & western coastal waters of Australia but are rarely even spotted to the elaborate camouflage of the Sea Dragon. Those few Sea Dragons that are unlucky enough to be found, are usually spotted by large fish.

The Weedy Sea Dragon does not look so elaborate, only having a few feather fins along its back. The Weedy has adapted to life on the sea bed as these feathery (weed-like) fins help the Sea Dragon to camouflage into the debris on the sea floor. Despite their small size, Sea Dragons are carnivorous animals and therefore have a purely meat-based diet. The Sea Dragon uses its pipe-like snout to suck its prey into it’s oddly tooth-less mouth. As with all Seahorses, it is the male Sea Dragon is the one who cares for the eggs once they have been laid by the female. The female lays around 250 eggs onto the long tail onto the long tail of the male. The eggs of the Sea Dragon can take up to 9 weeks to hatch and remain in the care of the male at all times. The baby Sea Dragons are completely independent once they have hatched and feed on tiny nutritious particles in the water. It can take up to a year for the Sea Dragon babies to be nearly the size of the adult Sea Dragons.

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