Beautiful, yet extremely rare, the ruby seadragon has been seen out in the wild for the first time, off the coast of Western Australia. Known to humans only through a few museum specimens, this fascinating organism has been observed in nature for the very first time. In April of 2016 a group of marine scientists captured an underwater video of two ruby seadragons floating around in the water.
Discovered back in 2015, the marine fish belongs to the Syngnathidae family, and is only the third species of seadragon known to humans. To better understand the organism’s anatomy, behavior and habitat, a team of researchers from the Western Australian Museum, the University of Western Australia and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography came together to investigate the waters close to the Recherche Archipelago near the town of Esperance.
With the help of a camera-fitted remotely operated vehicle (ROV), the scientists managed to capture a 30-minute-long footage of two ruby seadragons in their natural habitat. As their name suggests, these marine animals are brilliantly red in color, which in turn acts as a camouflage in the deep waters. As revealed by the new research, ruby seadragons do not possess the tiny leaf-like appendages that the other two species have.
As pointed out by the scientists, both common seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) and leafy seadragon ( Phycodurus eques) rely on these appendages as camouflage in seagrass meadows where they tend to reside. Based on their research, the team has concluded that the ruby seadragon likely lost its leafy appendages as a result of evolution.
Belonging to the same family as seahorses and pipefish, the ruby seadragon was first identified in preserved museum specimens collected more than 100 years ago. The team that made the discovery included biologists Greg Rouse and Josefin Stiller of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Nerida Wilson of Western Australian Museum. Speaking about the amazing find, Wilson added:
Western Australia has such a diverse range of habitats, and each one is deserving of attention.
Watch the following video to see the fascinating ruby seadragon in its natural habitat: