They may not fly, breathe fire, or perch atop a pile of gold, but the dragons of Australia’s seas are still a wonderful sight to behold. They roam a beautiful and mysterious world, amid forests of kelp and dazzling marine life. While it may not be solid gold, their stunning underwater environment itself is their treasure.
Meet the seadragons:
Seadragons are relatives of seahorses and pipefish, and there are currently three known species – leafy, weedy, and ruby. They perhaps sound like characters from a children’s book at first, so let us give you a bit more scientific background.
Leafy (Phycodurus eques) is rather spectacular in its resemblance to leafy seaweeds. Not only can it be easily mistaken for a floating patch of seaweed due to its appearance, it even appears to mimic the movement of weed in the water, drifting with the currents. They can be found along the southern coast of Australia, and are classed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.
Weedy (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) is also camouflaged, though not to the extent of the leafy seadragon. It too has appendages that resemble leaves, but it is often brighter colours, showing off vivid shades of yellow and purple. It roams the southern coast of Australia and Tasmania, and, like leafy, is classed as Near Threatened.
Last but not least, there is ruby (Phyllopteryx dewysea) the latest member of the family. Ruby was only described in 2015, and was named for its stunning deep red colouration. This seadragon is found in the waters off the south-west coast of Australia, and it is believed the ruby-coloured body may help it remain undetected in deeper waters.
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