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Camouflage

Camouflaged Leafy SeadragonThe most striking feature of Seadragons is their leafy appendages. Seadragons resemble swaying seaweed and blend in easily with their natural surroundings.

They are slow moving and rely heavily on camouflage for survival. They mimic seaweed so they can ambush their prey. Even the brightly coloured Weedy Seadragons can blend in with the seaweed and seagrasses.

Seadragons change colour when they mature and can possibly even change colour at will. If their camouflage fails to protect them from larger fish, Leafy Seadragons use the long, sharp spines along their bodies to deflect the attack.

Feeding

Seadragons feed by sucking plankton, larval fish and small shrimp-like crustaceans called mysids into their tiny mouths. They quickly expand a joint on the lower part of their snout causing a suction that draws the shrimp in. Their prey is small so they must eat constantly and cover large areas to find enough food. Seadragons are also thought to change colour depending on what they eat.

Movement

Seadragons propel themselves along by rapidly oscillating their ventral and dorsal fins. The fins provide propulsion while the tail is used as a rudder, to steer.

Weedy Seadragon with eggsThey use floatation bladders to move vertically in the water - rising or settling to another depth by changing the amount of air in the air bladder. After storms, Seadragons are sometimes found washed up in seaweed clumps because their fragile air bladders can't always cope with sudden changes in water pressure or depth caused by the bad weather.

Incubation

Another interesting feature of Seadragons is that the male Seadragon incubates the eggs, not the female. The eggs are attached to the male's tail and the young hatch out over several days.

See Life Cycle for more details.

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