The Wonderful Weedy Sea Dragon

Weedy Sea dragons are some of the most impressive camouflaged creatures on the planet.

Adorned with leaf-shaped appendages over their entire bodies, they are perfectly decorated to blend in with the seaweed and kelp formations they live amongst.

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Illustration from children´s picture book series “Fins and Tales” by Jessica Shilling: Amazon-FinsandTales

Weedy sea dragons are one of only two species of sea dragons, the second is known as the leafy sea dragon. Sea dragons very much resemble seahorses with a bony body and long snout. One of the only features that sets sea dragons apart from their seahorse cousins is the tail does not curl under and cannot be used for gripping like a seahorse.

Leafy sea dragons are commonly brown to yellow in body color with spectacular green appendages to blend in with sea weed. Weedy sea dragons are a reddish color, with yellow and purple markings; they have small leaf-like appendages that provide camouflage and a number of short spines for protection

Weedy sea dragons are very slow and rely on their camouflage as protection against predators. They have small, transparent dorsal and pectoral fins that steer them through the water as they drift in the water resembling the swaying seaweed of their habitat.

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Illustration from children´s picture book series “Fins and Tales” by Jessica Shilling: Amazon-FinsandTales

Inhabiting coastal waters along the south coast from the Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia to Port Stephens, New South Wales.  Sea dragons are commonly found near rocky reefs, seaweed beds, and any structure that looks like seaweed.

Leafies grow to a length of about 14 inches, while the slightly larger Weedies can grow up to 18 inches long. Sea dragon males are the sex that cares for the developing eggs. Females lay around 120 eggs onto the underside of the males tail. The eggs are fertilized and carried by the male for around a month. before the hatchlings emerge.

Sea dragons are frequently taken by divers wanting to keep them as pets. In fact, such takings have diminished their numbers so critically forcing the Australian government to place a complete protection on both species. Pollution and destruction of habitat has also hurt their numbers, and they are currently listed as near threatened.

A database of sea dragon sightings, known as ‘Dragon Search’ has been established with support from the Marine and Coastal Community Network, Threatened Species Network and the Australian Marine Conservation Society, which encourages divers to report sightings.