There are 2 types of Seadragons found in Australian Waters
The Weedy (Common) Seadragon
and the Leafy Seadragon
Sea dragons are not sea horses
Sea dragons are found in Australian waters and belong to the same family as sea horses but differ in 3 main ways
- Looks, they have "appendages" from their body which look like ether weeds or leafs (hence the two types)
- They have no pouch for rearing the young (the male carries them in his tail)
- Their tail does not coil up or grab objects (prehensile)
Seadragons swim by the same method as seahorses, that is by the rapid movement of their ventral and dorsal fins (on their neck and back)
Both sea dragons have a "long tubular snout" and a tough solid hide
and their eyes move independent of each other
They have no teeth or stomach.
Leafy Seadragons have a maximum length of 35 cm and Weedy Seadragons have a maximum length of 45 cm
The leafy Seadragon is usually green gold and orange with appendages that look like leaves
(good for camouflage) and is generally more ornate than the weedy Seadragon
The Weedy Seadragon has a longer thinner snout than the leafy sea dragon
and bright blue bands are found along its upper body
The Leafy Seadragons scientific name is Phycodurus eques
The Weedy (Common) Seadragon scientific name is Phyllopteryx taeniolatus
LOCATION & HABITAT
The leafy Seadragon is found along Australia's southern coastline between Rottnest island in the west to Kangaroo Island in the east whilst the Weedy (common) sea dragon is found in the same area and also further east to waters off N.S.W.
They love the kelp covered reefs and tidal inshore areas of seagrass
They feed mainly on crustaceans such as mysids or sometimes called mysid shrimps (sea lice).
Newly born Seadragons after the first couple of days being sustained by their yolk sac eat small "zooplankton" (copepods and rotifers) until they grow large enough to hunt mysids
MATING & REPRODUCTION
Seadragons are like seahorses in that it is the male who carries the eggs
The female will deposit up to 250 eggs (bright pink) onto the males tail where the eggs attach themselves
to a "brood patch" where they will stay for the next 6 to 8 weeks where they receive oxygen from "cups" on this brood patch and they become "fertilised"
The young are born over a period of days and over a wide area.
Once born the young Seadragons (which are born looking like the adult version just smaller) are instantly independent of both father and mother
As mentioned above " Newly born Seadragons after the first couple of days being sustained by their yolk sac eat small "zooplankton" (copepods and rotifers) until they grow large enough to hunt mysids"
are many & varied
1) Pollution and fertiliser run off
2) Human collectors
3) Being a fragile animal storms that toss them around and rapidly change the water pressure, can "rupture" them
4) Being slow swimmers these same storms can strand them on beaches
5) Some use as an "alternative" human medicine
6) Newly born and young Seadragons are hunted and eaten by anemones, crabs and hydroids