Happy 2nd Hatch Day to our Weedy Seadragons!
Two years ago, Birch Aquarium at Scripps welcomed two new wonderful weedies to the world — this was the first time ever Weedy Seadragons were bred and successfully hatched at the aquarium! Only a handful of aquariums around the world have bred these rare and unusual fish.
At two years old, our Weedy Seadragons are now fully grown! When they first hatched they were only about the size of a grain of rice. Today, they’re around 18 inches long — that’s about the length of 2 pencils.
This spectacular species of seadragon is only found along the coastal waters of Australia. Weedy Seadragons are excellent at camouflage, so much so that it’s in their name! They blend in among “weedy” looking algae and seagrass beds with ease thanks to their leaf-like appendages and yellow and blue coloration.
This species performs complex mating displays, where partners spin together snout-to-snout and swim up and down in the water column. This “dance” facilitates the successful transfer of eggs from the female onto the male’s tail, where he then fertilizes and holds the eggs. If mating is successful, the male will brood the eggs until they hatch about 6 weeks later.
Did you know that Birch Aquarium’s seadragon habitat was designed to create the ideal environment to breed seadragons? Our 18-foot-wide, 9-foot-tall exhibit holds 5,375 gallons of water — that’s equivalent to 70 bathtubs. It provides the space for seadragons to perform their elaborate mating display.
Conserving Charismatic Creatures!
Since 1995, we have bred and shared a number of seahorse species with other AZA institutions to help promote seahorse conservation. Our Seadragon Breeding Program was created in 2012 to focus on these unusual seahorse cousins.
The breeding of seahorses and seadragons is increasingly important due to the number of challenges this fish face in the wild from compromised habitats and destructive fishing methods, changing climate and warming oceans, and unsustainable collection practices for home aquariums and traditional medicine.
Both our seahorse and seadragon conservation efforts alleviates pressure on wild populations and contributes to Species Survival Plans (SSPs) — a cooperatively managed program that oversees the population management of select species within AZA member institutions and enhances conservation of species in the wild. These SSPs ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, guide breeding programs for healthy and diverse populations, and enhance conservation of these species in the wild.
We are so proud to be part of such a crucial program to ensure future healthy populations of seahorses and seadragons! Be sure to wish our Weedy Seadragons a happy second hatch day the next time you visit Birch Aquarium — you can find this spectacular species in Seadragons and Seahorses.