Researchers at Scripps Oceanography and the Western Australian Museum capture on video the first-ever field sighting of the newly discovered third species of seadragon. As they observed two Ruby Seadragons on video for nearly 30 minutes, the scientists uncovered new details about their anatomy, habitat, and behavior.
The video shows the Ruby Seadragon is unique among seadragons in having a curled prehensile tail that is found on many Syngnathids (e.g. seahorses) but not on the two other seadragon species, the Weedy and Leafy Seadragons. Ruby Seadragons likely use their tails to anchor themselves to the seafloor in strong currents or perhaps for some other yet-discovered purpose.
Also, unlike the Common and Leafy Seadragons, the Ruby Seadragon lives at far greater depth. The video was recorded at over 164 feet deep by a mini-remotely-operated-vehicle. The footage shows that unlike the lush habitats of the other seadragons, which are dominated by seagrasses and seaweeds, the Ruby Seadragon lives in a mixed reef and sandy habitat sparsely populated with macroalgae, seafans, corals, and sponges. The water currents also appear very strong for Syngnathids. Scientists really did not expect to find seadragons existing in this type of habitat. Then again, no one thought we would discover a third, new seadragon species, the last species having been discovered 150 years ago.
The new research was published in Marine Biodiversity Records.