Sea dragons, like sea horses , are a type of pipe fish.
Sea dragons , unlike sea horses do not have a gripping (prehensile) tail. They do have extra parts that look like sea weed which help them to hold onto seagrass. This also helps them to hide in the seagrass beds where they like to live. To help with their camouflage the sea dragons rock back and forth to imitate seagrass being moved by the ocean currents.
The sea dragons body is hard, almost like armour. This hard outer surface, called a 'hide' is made of bony rings. The hide makes the sea dragons body very ridged it can't move quickly and is easily caught.
Sea dragons like to eat tiny mysid shrimp known as 'sea-lice', plankton and small deep sea fish. They don't have any teeth so they eat by taking in small amounts of water containing their prey.
Sea dragons have a courting ritual that takes place before they mate. During this time the male goes through rapid colour changes when passing close to the female. The male sea dragon carries the eggs. This is known as 'paternal brooding'. The female lays about 200 bright pink eggs in the males 'brood patch' which is on the underside of the tail.
The brood patch is made up of tiny egg cupped shaped suction cups that hold the eggs. Once hatched the young can leave their fathers tail and look after themselves. They eat tiny zooplankton until they are big enough to eat mysid shrimp.
Sea dragons are pipe fish that look similar to sea horses. They have seaweed looking parts on their head and body that allow them to hide in sea grass and sea weed. They have a variety of colours including yellow, pink and orange. The juveniles are pinker in colour.
Sea dragons are unique to the southern waters of WA and South Australia. They can be found in areas that have seagrass, seaweed beds and around reefs. As the number of sea grass beds are decreasing the sea dragon has less places to live. They usually swim in shallow areas but have been seen in depths of 50 metres.
There are two types of sea dragons Australian waters :