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Seadragon eggsDuring Spring or early Summer, the male and female Seadragons move to shallower water and pair up. The female Seadragon produces up to 300 bright orange - red eggs in her lower abdominal cavity while the male prepares to receive the eggs.

The lower part of the male Seadragon's tail swells and becomes wrinkled. He then develops about 120 egg cups or small pits on the tail.

The eggs are then transferred to the male and fertilized. The male incubates the eggs for about 4 - 6 weeks. The eggs often become coated in algae and scientists believe this helps to hide the them from predators.

When the babies hatch, they are exact minature replicas of their parents and they emerge wriggling and squirming from the egg tail first. The young Seadragons hatch intermittently over several days to help with dispersal and to ensure there is sufficient food available for all.

Young Leafy SeadragonAt birth, the young Seadragons are about 20 millimetres long and they are a different colour (silver and black) to the adults. Young Seadragons are independent as soon as they leave their father's tail.

For the first 2 - 3 days, the young silver and black Seadragons are sustained by their yolk sac and after this, they hunt small zooplankton such as copepods and rotifers until they are large enough to hunt juvenile mysids. The first few weeks of life are the most perilous for the young seadragons as they are prey for larger fish. This is when they begin change colour.

Seadragons grow to about 20 centimetres in their first year and have reached their mature size after 2 years. During each breeding season, a male Seadragon is capable of hatching more than one batch of eggs. It is not known how long Seadragons live for in the wild but in captivity they live for about 5 - 7 years.

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