Seadragon Breeding Programs

Securing the Future of Seadragons

Endemic to the waters off south and east Australia, seadragons are a beautiful and unusual fish. However, this species faces a number of challenges in the wild from compromised habitats and destructive fishing practices, warming oceans and climate change, and unsustainable collection practices for home aquariums and traditional medicine. These pressures combined with the challenge of studying these camouflaged creatures in their remote southern Australia habitats, has led to a decline in the wild — it is unknown exactly how many seadragons are left.

Birch Aquarium created the Seadragon Breeding Program in 2012 to help alleviate pressure on wild populations and contribute 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.


Seadragons Born at Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium bred and successfully hatched two rare Weedy Seadragons —  this is a first for Birch Aquarium, now one of the few aquariums in the world to hatch this unusual fish!

 

Weedy Seadragons perform an elaborate mating display, spinning snout-to-snout and moving up and down in a water column to transfer eggs from the female onto the male's tail, where they are fertilized and hatched 6 weeks later. The two baby Weedy Seadragons were born on February 11 and 12, 2020 — we hope to continue our success with more seadragons in the future!

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Seadragons and Scripps Institution of Oceanography

In partnership with Scripps Oceanography scientists, Birch Aquarium has been studying Leafy and Weedy Seadragons both in the wild and in our state-of-the art captive breeding facility. We hope that captive breeding of seadragons will spread the word about these vulnerable creatures and help reduce the pressure on wild seadragon populations.


Be on the lookout for Weedy Seadragons in Seadragons & Seahorses and learn about the research being done at Scripps Oceanography to better understand the distribution and genetics of these unusual creatures.