SizeCommon length of 12.6 inches (32 cm.)
DietSmall crustaceans, including tiny mysid shrimp, as well as worms and other invertebrates
RangeLimited region from Southern and Western Australia to the southern tip of Tasmania
HabitatKelp forests, along reefs or in shallow, weedy areas of estuaries at depths to 160 feet (50 m); tends to remain in shallower waters unless food is scarce
- Coloration is commonly yellow and spotted on most of the body with a series of dark bluish lines along the trunk and a darker olive coloration toward the back. Leaf-like appendages are purple with a dark edge.
- Very distinctive, long and compressed body with narrow flaps projecting from the body and tail. Body of the female grows deeper than that of the male with age.
- Color and shape of appendages are based on the sea dragon’s food supply and environment, and also vary with other factors such as depth and geography.
- Individuals found in deep water habitats tend to be less leafy and brighter in color.
- Tube-like snout functions like a drinking straw to suck in food.
- Common length of 12.6 inches (32 cm).
Weedy sea dragons use their tube-like snouts as straws, sucking up prey
- Diet consists of small crustaceans, including tiny mysid shrimp, as well as worms and other invertebrates.
- Occurs in a limited region from Southern and Western Australia to the southern tip of Tasmania.
- Usually found in kelp forests, along reefs or in shallow, weedy areas of estuaries at depths to 160 feet (50 m); tends to remain in shallower waters unless food is scarce.
- Male of the species is the sex that carries the developing eggs and “gives birth.”
- Female lays up to 250 to 300 eggs onto the soft underside of the male’s tail during mating season, usually beginning in October or November.
- Eggs embed into the skin; hard, cup-like structures form around each egg to hold and protect it during brooding.
- Bright pink eggs hatch about two months later into miniature juveniles, which settle into the vegetation.
- Juveniles closely resemble the adult, though smaller and less colorful.
- “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.
- Threatened in some areas of the native range by pollution and habitat loss, especially in waters near large metropolitan areas.
- Protected by Australian law and can only be imported by collectors with special permits.
- Protected species in New South Wales and Tasmania.
- A poor swimmer.
- Belongs to the same family as sea horses (Syngnathidae); unlike sea horses, swims horizontally with its abdomen facing downward.
- Camouflages perfectly among seaweed and in sea grass beds with its leaf-like fins and frilly appendages.