Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Syngnathiformes (Pipefishes and seahorses)
Family: Syngnathidae (Seahorses, Pipefishes, and Seadragons)

Genus/species: Phycodurus eques

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Color varies from brown tones,to greenish or reddish depending on depth. Their body is scaleless and covered is in hard bony plates with long sharp spines on each bony plate that may be defensive. Leaf-like appendages protrude from the head, body, and tail and transparent dorsal and pectoral fins. Their long, thin pipe-like snout has no jaw.
Maximum length of the leafy seadragon is about 35 cm (14 in).

leafy seadragon11042381084_94c0a006a8_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Endemic to southern Australia.
Found amongst brown algae (kelp) in shallow, temperate water, associated with seagrass beds and rocky reefs.

DIET IN THE WILD: Do not have a jaw, teeth or a stomach. They swallow their prey whole by creating a suction to suck mysid shrimp, zooplankton and fish larvae into their mouths.

REPRODUCTION: Like the seahorse, the male seadragon carries the eggs. He develops about 120 shallow depressions in a spongy section of the ventral surface of his tail. The female deposits her eggs in the depressions.

LONGEVITY: 7-10 yrs.

PREDATORS: Depend on camouflage and sway like plants in the water to hide from predators.

CONSERVATION:IUCN Red List (2006.) Near Threatened. Habitat destruction, pollution, excessive fertilizer runoff, and poaching by humans has lead to a decrease in numbers. They are fully protected with special licenses required to collect or export them.

REMARKS: Unlike its seahorse relative that swims vertically, the seadragon swims horizontally. It is a very slow swimmer, as might be expected from its tiny fins, but is protected not only by its camouflage but by sharp spines that deter predators.
The leafy seadragon has the honor of being the official emblem of Australia.

leafy seadragon2980686562_a871c0e383_b

Color of Life
P. eques moves very slowly through the water and mimics seaweed, which makes it a master at camouflage.


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