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Leafy sea dragon

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Leafy sea dragon
Seadragon.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Phycodurus eques

Leafy Sea Dragon.
Seadragonataquarium.jpg

There are two types of sea dragons, the leafy sea dragon and the weedy. They are usually green to yellow in color. The body is covered in protective jointed plates instead of scales. They are not used for movement; they only act as camouflage. They are found in Australian waters. The leafy sea dragon is a fish that is related to the seahorse. [1] They reach a total length of 35 cm and live about eight years. [2][3] The Weedy Sea Dragon can grow to about 46 cm. They are usually orange/red in color and have numerous whitish spots on a lot of their body and their tube shaped snout.[4]

Anatomy

Leafy Sea Dragon

Sea dragons are similar in appearance to the seahorse and pipefish (look like straight-bodied seahorses with tiny mouths.)[5] The sea dragon has a variety of leaf-like appendages on their heads and bodies. Unlike that of a seahorse the Sea dragon's tail does not coil.

Reproduction

The Sea dragon's fertilized eggs, just like that of a sea horse's, are carried by the males. But the sea dragon males are different from the seahorse males. The male sea dragons do not have a pouch, so the eggs then are deposited on a "brood patch" which is located on the underside of the male sea dragon's tail. [6]

When a male sea dragon is ready to mate, his tail becomes swollen and turns bright yellow, and he releases sperm onto his belly. The female will put up to 250 eggs, which happen to be bright pink, onto the males tail. The eggs then will attach themselves to a "brood patch" where they stay for about 6 to 8 weeks. They receive oxygen from "cups" on the brood patch. Then they become fertilized. Once the sea dragons are born they are independent from their parents. They are a "spitting image" of their parents, but smaller. After awhile the newborns, while being sustained by their yolk sac, eat small zoo plankton. Later, when they are big enough, they will start hunting mysids (crustaceans). [7]

Ecology

Leafy Sea Dragon

The Leafy Sea Dragon is in the waters along the Southern coast of Australia. They live in the kelp-covered rocky reefs of Australia’s southern shoreline. Their camouflage works perfectly in the kelp-covered reefs. They don't have any teeth so they feed on tiny mysid shrimp known as sea-lice, as well as plankton, krill, and small fish. Since they have no teeth, in order to eat they take in a little bit of water with their food. Sea dragons have no known predators, except for the collection and trade of humans. [8]

Threats

Sea dragons, unlike seahorses, are not in demand from the Traditional Chinese Medicine market. They may however, be captured for aquarium trade. The greatest threat to sea dragons is the loss of habitat. Their habitats are being damaged more and more due to industrial pollution and other human activities and impacts. Their magnificent habitat, rocky reefs, seaweed beds, and sea grass, have been lost.[9]

Gallery

References