At first glance, the weedy sea dragon looks like a piece of floating seaweed. But if you look a little closer, you’ll see the rare sea creature is actually a relative of the sea horse. Last week, San Diego’s Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography announced that it has successfully hatched two weedy sea dragons in captivity, making it one of the few in the world to breed the fish in captivity.
The young sea dragons are only an inch long and have eaten their first meal of tiny shrimp under the careful watch of aquarium staff.
The University of California, San Diego has one of the world’s largest habitats for sea dragons, which are native to Australia. Their wild populations are threatened by pollution, warming oceans, and the illegal pet and alternative medicine trades. The tank contains 11 weedy sea dragons and three leafy sea dragons. The aquarium hopes to continue breeding these species to learn more about their mysterious behavior.
Studying these delicate species in captivity gives scientists valuable insights into how to protect species in the wild. The birth of these two weedy sea dragons offers a hopeful outlook for the future of the intriguing species.