Fantastic Animals : Leafy Sea Dragons

Master of Camouflage !

Sea Dragons are arguably the most spectacular and mysterious of all ocean fish. Though close relatives of sea horses, sea dragons have larger bodies and leaf-like appendages which enable them to hide among floating seaweed or kelp beds.

Leafy Sea Dragons are very interesting to watch-- the leafy appendages are not used for movement. The body of a sea dragon scarcely appears to move at all. Steering and turning is through movement of tiny, translucent fins along the sides of the head (pectoral fins, visible above) and propulsion derives from the dorsal fins (along the spine). Their movement is as though an invisible hand were helping, causing them to glide and tumble in peculiar but graceful patterns in slow-motion. This movement appears to mimic the swaying movements of the seaweed and kelp. Only close observation reveals movement of an eye or tiny fins.

Hey, it has a funny, naughty look.

They are found in the ocean waters of southern Western Australia, South Australia and further east along the coastline of Victoria province, Australia. Sea dragons are protected under Australian law, and their export is strictly regulated. A 1996 assessment by the Australian government's Department of Environmental Heritage indicates "It [the Leafy Sea Dragon] is now completely protected in South Australia because demand for aquarium specimens threatened the species with extinction."


 
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