Friday 17 May
Leafy seadragon (Phycodurus eques)
Leafy seadragon fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Leafy seadragon description
Leafy seadragons (Phycodurus eques) are exquisitely camouflaged fish. Belonging to the same family as seahorses and pipefish (Syngnathidae), they resemble these with their elongated snout and bony-plated body (2). Leafy seadragons are yellowish-brown to green in colour, although they may vary depending on their age, diet or location (2). The pectoral fins are located on the neck, and a dorsal fin runs along the seadragon's back (3). As their common name suggests, there are a number of leaf-like appendages along the body, which help to make these fish resemble the seaweed of their habitat. The eyes are located above the elongated snout and there are a number of defensive spines along the sides of the body (2).
- Also known as
- Glauert’s seadragon.
- Length: 30 cm (2)
BBC Wildlife Finder:
- Dorsal fin
- In fish, the unpaired fin found on the back of the body.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Pectoral fins
- In fish, the pair of fins that are found one on each side of the body just behind the gills. They are generally used for balancing and braking.
IUCN Red List (May, 2009)
Dragon Search (April, 2003)
Australia Museum Online (April, 2003)
- Gramp, J. (2003) Pers. comm.
Western Australia Department of Fisheries (April, 2003)
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Leafy seadragon biology
Leafy seadragons are seen either solitarily or in pairs, they are slow-moving and rely on their elegant camouflage to provide protection from predators (2). In common with seahorses, it is the male seadragon that carries the developing eggs. The breeding season runs from October to March (5), and males develop a 'brood patch' on the underside of the tail that consists of cups of blood-rich tissue, which each hold an egg (4). The female transfers around 120 eggs into these pits; the eggs are then fertilised and carried by the male for about a month (2). Hatchlings emerge over several days and are initially only around 20 millimetres in length. They are extremely vulnerable to predation but grow quickly, attaining adult size by the time they are two years old (2). Seadragons feed on small organisms such as plankton and mysids by sucking them into their tube-like snout (2).Top
Leafy seadragon rangeTop
Leafy seadragon habitat
Inhabiting rocky reefs, seaweed beds, seagrass meadows and structures colonised by seaweed, leafy seadragons are found in shallow coastal waters down to at least 30 metres deep (5).Top
Leafy seadragon status
The leafy seadragon is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Leafy seadragon threats
Unlike seahorses, seadragons are not in demand from the Traditional Chinese Medicine market but they may nevertheless be captured for the aquarium trade. Loss of habitat is considered the greatest threat to seadragons. Coastal habitats are increasingly damaged from the effects of urban and agricultural run-off, industrial pollution and other human activities and impacts (5).Top
Leafy seadragon conservation
Little is known about the population distribution of leafy seadragons, or much of their behaviour. They are fully protected in Australian waters (4). A database of seadragon sightings, known as 'Dragon Search' has been established with support from the Marine and Coastal Community Network (MCCN), Threatened Species Network (TSN) and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), which encourages divers to report sightings (2). Monitoring of populations may provide indications of local water quality and seadragons could also become an important 'flagship' species for the often-overlooked richness of the unique flora and fauna of Australia's south coast (2).Top
Find out more
For more information on seadragons:
Authenticated (25/6/03) by Jeremy Gramp, Dragon Search.
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.