Leafy Sea Dragons Facts!

Leafy sea dragon by VirtualWolf CC BY-SA 2.0

Leafy Sea Dragons Facts!

Leafy sea dragon by VirtualWolf CC BY-SA 2.0

The Leafy Sea Dragon inhabits southern and western coasts of Australia. It is only about 20-24 cm long and is yellowish brown to green in colour. The coloration may differ depending on the location, age or diet of the sea dragon. The leafy sea dragon is closely related to sea horses and pipefish. Its diet consists of plankton and small crustaceans and it feeds by sucking the prey in along its pipe-like snout.

Seaweed Camouflage

A leafy sea dragon – which camouflages itself as seaweed. Image credit: bdearth cc2.0

As the name implies, the sea dragon has leaf-like outgrowths which provides it with an effective camouflage enabling it to hide among floating seaweed or kelp beds. The body of the sea dragon barely seems to move at all. There are small fins that are almost entirely transparent along the sides of its head (pectoral fins), which does the steering and turning. And the dorsal fins along the spine allow it to propel. These translucent fins are very hard to spot even as they move, and this gives the illusion of floating seaweed. Also the dragon moves very slowly and will very easily become prey to some predator, so this disguise keeps it safe.

Leafy Sea Dragon Hatchlings

Leafy Seadragon
Image credit: Joseph C Boone cc3.0

The male sea dragon takes care of the eggs. The female deposits up to 250 eggs on to the brood patch on the base of the male’s tail, which supplies the eggs with oxygen. The eggs hatch in about eight weeks. The male shakes its tail or rubs it’s against seaweed and rocks to help the eggs hatch. Hatchlings are on their own from the moment they hatch. Only about 5% of the young leafy sea dragons manage to reach maturity, which is in about two years.

Leafy Sea Dragons are featured in the following book:
25 Weirdest Animals in the World!

Leafy Sea Dragon Videos

Quick but very clear footage of a Leafy Sea Dragon.

Leafy sea dragon documentary film “The Vanishing Dragon”

Great insight into the lives and habitat of wild leafys. They are filmed by scuba divers in the seas off South Australia.

Leafy and Weedy Sea Dragons

Footage from a New England Aquarium.



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