– This beautiful and fascinating animal known a Ruby Seadragon has been caught on film for the first time.
Ruby Seadragons were only recently classed a distinct species, but now we know with certainty that they are present in deep waters off Western Australia.
Scientists from the University of Western Australia, the Western Australian Museum, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography have observed two Ruby Seadragons on video for nearly 30 minutes and uncovered new details about their anatomy, habitat, and behavior.
It was by no means easy to catch a glimpse of the two Ruby Seadragons and film them. Researchers had to search several days with a mini-remotely operated vehicle in waters over 50-meters (164-feet) deep until they found the fish the near Western Australia’s Recherche Archipelago.
“Until recently, no one had ever suspected a third species of seadragon existed,” Professor Greg Rouse from Scripps Oceanography, lead author of the study said.
“This discovery was made thanks to the great benefit of museum collections.”
“It was really quite an amazing moment when we discovered that the ruby seadragon lacks appendages,” said Josefin Stiller, Scripps graduate student and coauthor of the paper.
This latest discovery of the fish in the wild confirmed that Ruby Seadragons lack ornate leaf-like appendages, a feature that scientists had long considered to be distinguishing characteristics of all seadragons based upon the two known species—Common and Leafy seadragons. Both species use their leaf-like appendages as camouflage in the lush seaweed and kelp meadows where they prefer to live.
“It never occurred to me that a seadragon could lack appendages because they are characterized by their beautiful camouflage leaves,” Stiller said.
The reason the animals have red color is because they live in deep waters. The red color serves also as camouflage.
Some may say seahorses and seadragons are similar in appearance and that is true, but there are differences between these two species. The animals share similar body shapes, but seadragons have longer tails that can’t be curled like those of seahorses. Seahorses often use their tails to grab onto plants or structures to hold them in place.