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weedy sea dragon

Phyllopteryx taeniolatus

Description:

This relative of the seahorse (Hippocampus) is an excellent mimic of the kelp seaweed. This specimen was washed onto the beach in NSW and I framed it with a seahorse and a pipefish

Habitat:

Southern half of Australia in kelp forests. Found washed up on the beach beside the Wollongong lighthouse

Notes:

Whereas male seahorses hold their young in a pouch for brooding, sea dragon males attach their eggs to their tail and carry them around until they hatch. Seahorses are listed as vulnerable by CITES and import (eg Chinese medicine) is banned by participating countries like Australia. Dragons have never been very common but are probably quite secure since our kelp forests are well protected in many places.

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7 Comments

MartinL
MartinL 5 years ago

That is inspiring Grum. This species is apparently not particularly scarce but you are at the tip of its range. We do see them washed up on the beach in Victoria but this one I found beside the lighthouse in Wollongong was the best specimen ever. Maybe this gives you a clue to another viewing habitat?

Grum
Grum 5 years ago

During my SCUBA training, I asked my instructor if there was any chance of seeing these, and I was lucky enough that she took me to a dive site where we saw a handful of them in their natural environment. I felt very honoured to have seen these creatures that many people don't even realise exist.

keithp2012
keithp2012 7 years ago

That's a great collection you have there!

MartinL
MartinL 7 years ago

I think seahorses and pipefish live in seagrass beds and are all but extinct in the Mediterranean and other overpopulated habitats. Dragons live on kelp and so long as the habitat is secure they should be okay. Aquariums probably have an important role, sadly.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 7 years ago

I suppose some would regard this as just another seahorse -a scary thought. Some 30 years ago I was charged with trying to keep these (and leafy sea dragons) alive in a large aquarium tank. They weren't easy and I was told that six months was an excellent life expectancy. Made me realise how sensitive they are - just couldn't recreate swells, live kelp etc..

MartinL
MartinL 7 years ago

Seahorses are listed as vulnerable by CITES and import (eg Chinese medicine) is banned by participating countries like Australia. Sea dragons have never been very common but are probably quite secure since our kelp forests are well protected in many places along the coast.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 7 years ago

Good find. Another unique Oz critter. Hope they're doing ok still.

Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

Lat: -34.42, Long: 150.91

Spotted on Jan 25, 2010
Submitted on Jan 17, 2012

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