The Beautiful Leafy Seadragon
Found along the southern coast of Australia, leafy seadragons are fascinating creatures. Also known as Glauert’s seadragons, these fish are the only members of their genus, Phycodurus. However, their resemblance to seahorses is very clear in terms of size and body shape – which can be explained by the fact that they belong to the family Syngnathidae, which includes pipefish and seahorses.
Leafy seadragons are not only physically similar to seahorses, but their reproductive processes are also alike. As with seahorses, male leafy seadragons also carry their eggs. Once female seadragons deposit their bright-pink eggs onto the males’ tails it takes about 9 weeks for them to begin to hatch.
Unlike seahorses, though, leafy seadragons have leaf-like fins that help them camouflage as floating seaweed. To blend in and hide from predators, these seadragons can also change color depending on their diet, age, location, and stress level. They also have a very strong sense of location: seadragons can travel several hundred meters from their usual locations and always return to the same spot. To propel themselves, leafy seadragons use a pectoral fin on the ridge of their neck and a dorsal fin on their back. Undulating exhaustively to move the animals through the water, these tiny fins are very hard to see.