The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Ca announced that one of its male weedy sea dragons (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) has successfully given birth to more than 80 sea dragon babies. The babies began hatching July 22, with the last eggs completing the hatch cycle August 2.
The young are not currently on exhibit and are being raised behind the scenes. The aquarium said that if they survive their first stages of life they may be introduced to visitors as part of a special exhibit. They were initially hatched in the aquarium’s special exhibition called “The Secret Lives of Seahorses.”
“We are so excited about these births,” said Jonelle Verdugo, Associate Curator of Fish and Invertebrates and head of the seahorse husbandry team at the aquarium. “We’ve had success with a couple species of pipefish and half a dozen species of seahorses, but this is a first for our weedy sea dragons.”
The weedy sea dragon is native to the southern and eastern coasts of Australia. It grows to up to 18 inches long and is reddish in color with yellow spots. It sports leaf-like growths over its body that helps to make them look like the seaweeds in which they live. It is closely related to the leafy sea dragon.
Phyllopteryx taeniolatus are not classified as threatened in the wild and are protected under Australian law where it is illegal to take or export them without a permit.