Many underwater creatures are masters of disguise. With predators abound and only so far to flee, many opt to hide. The leafy sea dragon looks just as you would assume. The sea dragon blends in with the underwater leaves of seaweed and is adorned with leaf-shaped appendages often tumbling through the water with the current just like sea weed.

The beautiful, ornate bodies of the sea dragons can change colours with their surroundings and the male’s tale will even turn a bright yellow colour when he is ready to mate. Just like the sea horse – which is a close relative – the male sea dragon is the one who looks after the eggs and helps them to hatch. The eggs are fertilized as they are transferred to the male’s spongy patch, where the eggs are stored until they hatch.

The leafy sea dragon is unique to Australia, found only in the waters off the South Australian coast. While they are not particularly in danger from predators, they are extremely delicate marine critters and are affected by human activities. The Australian Government placed complete protection over leafy sea dragons in the early 1990s and they are currently listed as near-threatened, still requiring protection.

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Want to see this unique critter in person? Locate a PADI Dive Shop in South Australia. The dive professionals will be able to point you in the right direction and offer advice on what to do when seeing one on a dive. You may be able to contribute to the Government protection initiative by filling out a sighting form after your dive.

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