|Biological Diversity 2003|
The Leafy Sea Dragon has independently swivelling eyes! (Imgrund 2000)
South Australia they recognized the Leafy Sea Dragon
as part of the Chinese Year of the Dragon celebrations
in 2000 !
Marine Conservation Society: Working to protect Australia's
coasts, waterways, and seas.
Leafy Sea Dragon
The lesser-known cousin of the
sea horse, the sea dragon, is a true bony fish that, like the
has a long slender body that is covered by bony plates. There are two
species of sea dragon, the Common or Weedy Sea Dragon,Phyllopteryx
taeniolatus, and the much rarer Leafy Sea Dragon, Phycodurus
eques. Leafy Sea Dragons can grow to be approximately 45
cm (20 in.) long and weigh only a quarter of a pound (Aquarium
of the Pacific 2003).
Unlike the sea horse, their tails cannot grip objects or coil up (Aquarium
of the Pacific 2003, Department of Fisheries 1998). Their bodies
are covered with
elaborate leafy appendages and large spines (Australian Museum Online
2001). The adults are anywhere from green to yellow or brown,
they can change colors, caused by many factors including age, habitat,
diet or stress levels (Dragon Search 2000).
The reproductive habits of the
Leafy Sea Dragon are fascinating. During the mating season, from
January, the females will lay about 100-250 eggs onto a special brood
patch on the underside of the males’ tails, where they are
fertilized and incubated. After 4-6 weeks, the eggs will hatch,
and from then on
the baby sea dragons are independent. Males will hatch two clutches
each breeding season. (Aquarium of the Pacific 2003, Department
of Fisheries 1998,
Leafy Sea Dragon is listed as a totally protected species by the Western
Australia Department of Fisheries. The South Australian Fisheries Act
1982, Section 42 prohibits
taking a protected species such as the
Leafy Sea Dragon from Australian waters.
the fact that the Leafy Sea
no known natural predators, they are becoming extremely rare.
threats to them is the damage to their rather restricted habitat,
pollution and fertilizer run-off. Humans are also directly threatening
the beautiful Leafy Sea Dragons by illegally capturing them to sell
to collectors and to the pet trade, as well as harassing them in order
to get great vacation photographs (Monterey
Bay Aquarium 2003, Department of Fisheries 1998, Zoological Parks).
In addition, they are sought for use in oriental medicines (Monterey
2003, Imgrund 2000).
Bad storms are
also harmful to the Leafy Sea Dragons, since their fragile flotation
bladders cannot cope with suddenly changing water depth or pressure
(Department of Fisheries 1998).
of the Pacific. 2003. Animal Database.
Prairie Chicken Bacillus
Octopus Botflies Ethnobotany
and A. araucana Hyacinth
Sea Dragon Leishmania Maned
Sloth Platypus Rafflesia Ring-tailed
Lemur Baiji Spanish
Croix Ground Lizard Tomatoes Vampire
This website is part of a Biology 226 class project on the conservation of global biodiversity.