If you like sea horses and pipefish you will love sea dragons. These beautiful creatures live off the south Australian coast (guide to leafy sea dragon diving) and look like sea horses crossed with sea grass. The weed-like protrusions help them hide from predators as they are slow swimmers and could hardly escape a hungry fish!
The dive sites
The leafy sea dragons can be found along the south coast of Australia with Rapid Bay and Victor Harbor being the most famous places to dive with them. As the Australians like to use short forms for everything these funny looking fish are also called “leafies”. Guided dives can be organised from Adelaide.
The dragons can be found around the old jetty in Rapid Bay which can be reached from the new jetty. The dives are shallow in about 6 m depth.
Due to the cold water (17°C for me in summer) the limiting factor for the dive time is rather the temperature than the air consumption. We still managed to hang around with the dragons for a bit over an hour as they made us forget about the cold.
Leafy sea dragons can grow up to 35 cm in length and are not that hard to spot when you know what you are looking for. I did not and I am not sure I would have found them without a guide. They move slowly above the sea grass which makes them look like a piece of floating weed.
Like sea horses, the male of the species carries the eggs. However, sea dragons do not have a pouch and the pink eggs are attached to its tail until they hatch after about 6 weeks.
The slow movement of the animal and its relative big size makes it easier for us underwater photographers to capture a good shot.
Which is the weirdest/funniest/strangest underwater animal you encountered?
Let me know in the comment section.
If you happen to travel/dive in Australia make sure to visit Yongala, probably the best dive there.