What are Sea Dragons. Sea Dragon Conservation
Most people are not aware of the fact that creatures like sea dragons or sea horses (as found in dictionaries) exists. These creatures live in the water and can be described as a small sea fish, but with a horse shaped head and neck. There are very close resemblance of this creature and a real horse; and these features are visible when you look at the head and neck. It also has the features of a sea fish that lives in water and swims in an upright position. Because of these physical attributes, the early founders decided to name them after their looks.
A view at sea dragons will amaze you at their ornately camouflaged beauty never seen before on the planet. A vivid description of a sea dragon look is that of adorning gossamer, and are creatures having leaf like or weed like appendages all over their body. They adapt perfectly to the marine lifestyle and their body structure and design/colour blends perfectly with the seaweeds and other kelp objects their Co habitat with.
Well, before I proceed with a complete description and a detailed explanation about sea dragons, I will like to clear up a fact that might be confusing to the ordinary man and that fact is that, sea dragons are not the same as sea horses. The only problem is that most dictionaries do not have sea dragons as a word or creature in them so people substitute sea dragons as sea horses for academic purposes.
Although sea dragons are not sea horses, they both belong to the same family. Sea dragons live in Australian waters specifically on Kangaroo Island, which is located on the southern coastline facing the Jurien Bay, which is on the western coastline, while sea horses live almost in any water. Though both creatures like those that I said belong to the same family, there are three major factors that distinguish them and these are:
- Sea dragons look a lot stranger than sea horses
- Sea dragons have their appendages hanging from their bodies like weeds or leaves while horses have appendages on their body.
- Sea dragons have no pouch for nursing their younger ones, but rather the males carry this young one on its tail while sea horses have pouches for the little ones.
- Sea dragons cannot call up their tails or use them to pick things as they swim but sea horses can.
But with all these differences, both sea dragons and sea horses swim alike in an upright position, using their dorsal fins and ventral which is located on their neck and back, in a very rapid movement. During reproduction, the female sea dragon can produce up to 300 bright eggs, which are always pink in colour and then places them on the tail of the male sea dragon (a long tube) who then nurtures it till it hatches. The eggs can take up to nine weeks in the tail of the male’s creature while they get the oxygen supply from his brood patch.
Types of Sea Dragons
There are two types of sea dragons found in Australian sea and they are; the weedy sea dragons (scientifically referred to as Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) and the leafy sea dragon (called Phycodurus eques). Both weedy and leafy sea dragons have many characteristics in common and are closely related to other sea habitat like pipefish and seahorses. A very significant difference between leafy and weedy sea dragons is that,
Leaves are usually either brown or yellow in their body colour with some unique looking olive painted- like appendages. On the other hand, weedy has a less flamboyant outlook or projections and have a different body colour that are popularly known to be reddish looking with some yellow spots on it.
The growth/growing length of both sea dragons are different as weed grows to a length of 18 inches or at 46 centimetres long, leafy grows to a length of 14 inches or at 35 centimetres long. Both sea dragons feed on tiny organisms or crustaceans like sea lice otherwise known as shrimps, and substances like zooplankton, which exists in places like crevices in reefs and many more. Both sea dragons have no stomach or teeth for chewing,
Leafy Sea Dragons
The leafy sea dragons, which are scientifically named Phycodurus eques, are from the family of asyngnathidae. Leafy sea dragons are sea fishes and they belong to the same family of creatures as the sea horse. They are the only ones in the phycodurus family and live in the southern and western shores of Australia. These sea fish creatures derived its name from its physical appearance, which are bodies made up of a camouflaged protrusion of long leafy body parts.
Weedy Sea Dragons
Weedy sea dragons are scientifically called Phyllopteryx taeniolatus. In addition, a sea fish comes from the same family creature as sea horses. They are also the only member of the phyllopteryx group. They live on the southern coast of Australia, in the very deep parts of the water those measures from three to 50meters deep. The weedy sea dragon as its name implies, are found always swimming and living around the weed beds in the sea and are created to have body structures camouflaged like that of the weeds in the sea where it habitats.
Conservation Methods and Sea Dragon Threats
In the past, many things threatened the existence of sea dragons and for this, legislators enacted a law to enable, the governments protect this creature from being wiped off the face of the earth.
The many threats that affected the existences of sea dragons were both from natural and man-made causes. In the past, the most common threats for sea dragons were its collections in large quantity of people, who later used them as alternative medicines for treating ailments. In addition, the sad part of this was that new sea dragons (newly born) suffered most during this period.
Another natural threat to sea dragons happens usually after a stormy weather, when these creatures are washed to shore because they were not able to grab onto sea grasses due to the stiffness of their tails and their inability to coil their tail around to grab things.
Another threat to these creatures before the federal government of Australia began protecting them was the collection of these sea dragons by divers for the fun of it. Probably because of the unique nature and the looks of these creatures, which eventually due to inadequate knowledge of these creatures, how they live, their kind of food, and nature, they die in the process.
Another threat to these sea dragons is the very commonly known pollution of the area and the run off excessive fertilizer into the sea, which causes it to contaminate and kill these sea creatures. Another is also the loss of their seaweed beds, maybe due to storms and other sea factor.
With the incessant changes in the climate and global warming, this also causes a problem in the habitation lifestyle of these creatures. Another threat to sea dragons is poaching. The constant stay in unprotected waters is an increasing cause of losses in the large populations of sea dragons.
With the early intervention of the Australian government, threats are now outdated as these creatures now enjoy optimum protections and will remain in existence for a very long time. Sea dragons are highly protected by law from the federal fisheries legislations and other Australian legislative sector where they live.
For you to get a sea dragon, you will have to get a permit from the government, which will cost you a lot of money (from about $4000 (US dollars), processes, and time. Therefore, it is futile trying to get one for whatsoever reasons you may have.
The best ways of conserving sea dragons outside their natural habitat is by putting them in a sector for public aquarium where there will be enough funds to maintain them and where the right knowledge for properly conserving these creatures exist rather than putting them in any aquarium. Because of findings and statistics, loss of sea dragons have died living in private or home aquarium due to the inadequate knowledge of the nature of this creature.
What Individuals Can Do To Help
If we all work together in one accord, we can help protect the existence of these creatures. We owe it to ourselves to ensure that sea dragons still exist on this earth's surface. You can also contribute your quota by donating to help conserve these creatures, report any illegal activities you find been carried out on these creatures.
We need to in our own way encourage legislators to help these sea creatures by passing other laws that will protect the entire coastal water from pollutions or spills runoff from fertilizers or other chemical substances, and developments
People tend to love sea dragons once they see one, while most people also love to touch them because of how unique and beautiful they look, but we also have to understand that these sea creatures are very fragile and needs to be handled with extreme care. We need not touch them or touch them carefully if at all, to avoid choking them to death with our grips or inflict injuries on them.
When you go on tour or vacation, do not encourage those locals who kill these creatures by buying dried sea dragons as souvenirs or some decorative objects. Lastly, when you find Dead Sea dragons lying on the shores of the beach, alert the guards on the beach as the news will definitely get to the notice of the scientists who daily keeps a close watch on the populations and survival of these sea dragons.