Australia is popularly known as Island Continent as it is surrounded by water from all sides. And the coastal area of Australia has wondrous treasures of oceanic beauty. Each and every species has its uniqueness as created by God.
There is one species that is seen exclusively in the southern Australian waters, from Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria at the eastern end of its range, westward to Jurien Bay, 220 km (136 miles) north of Perth in Western Australia. The scientific name of this species is Phycodurus eques.
This species looks like a miniature dragon and it is covered with long, leaf-like protrusions. And that is why they were commonly known as Leafy Seadragon. The adults grow up to 20 – 30 cm long.
The leaf-like protrusions serve only as mask to disguise its predators. They are lobes of skin and give the cutie dragons the appearance of seaweed. To propel itself, the leafy seadragon uses a pectoral fin on the edge of its neck and a dorsal fin on its back, closer to the tail end. Both these fins are very small, almost completely transparent and difficult to see as they undulate minutely to move the creature sedately through the water. Leafy sea dragons can change their color to blend in. They are usually yellowish-brown to green in color. However the ability of changing colors depends on the seadragon’s diet, age, location, and stress levels. Because of this ability and the physical appearance of the Leafy Sea Dragon they don’t really have any natural predators in their environment. They blend in to the surroundings so amazingly well that they aren’t detected as a food source even when predators are right there in front of them.
The funny part is the males are usually the ones that will be carrying the young until they are born. They are usually isolated and timid but when it comes to mating they become aggressive searching for a female. They fight with each other for the right to mate. When a female is ready to mate she will spend several days with the male and mate in between. The tail of a male leafy sea dragon will turn bright yellow when he is ready to mate. During this time the female deposits the eggs into the pouch on the male’s abdomen with well timed movements between both the sexes. The eggs are usually of light pink color and they are very small. There can be as many as 200 of them that she places into the pouch of the male. He will carry them for about 9 weeks till the baby Leafy Seadragons take birth out of those pouches. The young ones are very small when they arrive and they have to care for themselves. That is a startling feature in this particular species. They don’t get any help from the male or the female parents leaving a lesser chances surviving till the age of maturity. Most of them will become prey for various other creatures that live in the same bodies of water.
The real threat for these species comes from humans. The fact that there is so much pollution in the water makes it very difficult for them to survive in their natural environment. In many locations they end up in fishing nets and captured for commercial use. The goal is for them to be sold in the pet trade. Due to the great unique look of the Leafy Sea Dragon there is quite a market for it.
The longevity of leafy seadragons is unknown, but they may live 7 to 10 years but that also look grim when the crown of creation destroy these beautiful species for their pleasure.
The Bible says,
God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds… And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas…”
But unfortunately we have failed to take care of them rightfully. How beautiful they look! How amazing its behavioural pattern is! We can’t even imagine of creating such a thing ourselves yet we never care for protecting them. Let’s be responsible to protect this species to be extincted from our beautiful earth, from our beautiful creation created by God.