Photos by: Jordann Tomasek, Birch Aquarium

Second Time Lucky! Earth Day Brings Seadragon Surprise to Aquarium

Following on the recent announcement of year-old Weedy Seadragons going on display, Birch Aquarium announces second successful egg transfer to male.

La Jolla, CA (April 23, 2024)  For the second time in just over a year, Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is announcing the successful transfer of eggs from a female Weedy Seadragon to a male in the Seadragons & Seahorses habitat. 

“We are very excited to have another male successfully carrying eggs,” said Leslee Matsushige, Associate Curator. “This allows us to improve our skills rearing Weedy Seadragons in human care. And as we learn more about Weedy Seadragon husbandry, we’ll share our knowledge with our colleagues so they will also have success in keeping Weedy Seadragons.”

Like seahorses, Weedy Seadragon males — not females — are responsible for carrying eggs. An egg transfer occurs only after the seadragons participate in an elaborate courtship “dance.” The male and female mirror each other, often with their tails curled away from their mate, moving up and down in the water column as their body coloration brightens, becoming iridescent. Birch Aquarium’s Weedy Seadragon habitat in Seadragons & Seahorses is specially designed to mimic their natural habitat in Australia with appropriate depth and enriching habitat. This is essential for the successful transfer of eggs from the female onto the male’s tail, where he then fertilizes and carries the eggs.

Birch Aquarium’s Weedy Seadragon will carry the eggs, which resemble tiny pink pearls, on his tail for 4 to 6 weeks until they are ready to hatch. Guests will be able to view the male seadragon on display in Seadragons & Seahorses over the next few weeks, while the Husbandry Team closely monitors him, and the eggs’ development. He will then be moved behind the scenes when it is close to time for the eggs to hatch.

the bottom half of a Weedy Seadragon against a black background; tiny pink eggs line the side of the tail, contrasting with the yellow of the seadragon's body
Tiny pink eggs line the sides and bottom of the male Weedy Seadragon's tail, where he will carry them for 4 to 6 weeks.

Endemic to southern Australia, Weedy Seadragons face challenges in the wild including climate change, warming oceans and compromised habitats, so breeding success is extremely exciting. Last year, another male Weedy Seadragon carried eggs resulting in more than 70 baby seadragons hatching. These seadragons resulted from the first successful egg transfer within the seadragon habitat in Seadragons & Seahorses, and marked a huge milestone in the care for this difficult-to-breed species. 

In March, 5 Weedy Seadragons from that group went on display to the public as well, and can be viewed in Seadragons & Seahorses. Some of the yearlings will remain behind the scenes at Birch Aquarium, while others will go to zoos and aquariums around the United States to contribute to a healthy and genetically diverse population in human care.

In partnership with Scripps Oceanography scientists, Birch Aquarium has been studying Weedy Seadragons both in the wild and in the aquarium to alleviate pressure on wild populations. Visit to learn more about our Seadragon Breeding Program.

The aquarium is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with extended seasonal hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. from March 1 through Labor Day. General Admission is $29.95 for adults and $24.95 for children ages 3-17. Annual memberships are also available. Advanced reservations are required (except for members). Visit the aquarium’s website to learn more and check the daily schedule for hours and special events.

About Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Birch Aquarium at Scripps is the public exploration center for Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Birch Aquarium features the groundbreaking work of Scripps Oceanography and UC San Diego scientists as well as conservation breeding programs and interactive exhibits. Birch Aquarium’s mission is to connect understanding to protecting our ocean planet, which it achieves through engaging hands-on learning opportunities for more than 500,000 guests and 40,000-plus pre-K-12 students each year. Visit for more information.