Sea Dragon

Sea DragonAt first, I thought that this picture shows a sea horse hiding amongst seaweeds. If you look carefully however, these long leaf-like protrusions are actually a part of this graceful creature. This fascinating ocean fish is called the sea dragon.

Though close relatives of sea horses, sea dragons have larger bodies and leaf-like appendages which enable them to hide among floating seaweed or kelp beds. Sea dragons feed on larval fishes and amphipods, such as and small shrimp-like crustaceans called mysids ("sea lice"), sucking up their prey in their small mouths.

…the leafy appendages are not used for movement. The body of a sea dragon scarcely appears to move at all. Steering and turning is through movement of tiny, translucent fins along the sides of the head (pectoral fins, visible above) and propulsion derives from the dorsal fins (along the spine). A fully grown Leafy Sea Dragon grows to about 18 inches (45 cm). It is an endangered species.

More photos after the jump.

Link & Image: DiveGallery
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