John T. Willis

Friday, March 19, 2010

Leafy Sea Dragon

The Leafy Sea Dragon, Phycodurus eques, is a marine fish in the family Syngnathidae, and includes seahorses. It lives in the waters of Austrlia from Kangaroo Island on the Southern shoreline to Jurien Bay on the Western shoreline.

The name "Leafy Sea Dragon" comes from its appearance with long leaf-like protrusions all over the body. These protrusions are used for propulsion and serve as a camouflage. This amazing creature propels itself by a pectoral fin on the ridge of its neck and a dorsal fin on its back closer to the tail end. These fins are almost completely transparent and difficult to se as they uldulate minutely to move the "leafy sea dragon" sedately through the water, completing the illusion of floating seaweed.

The "Leafy Sea Dragon" is 8 to 10 inches long, and feeds on plankton, small crustaceans, shrimp, and small fish. This creatures has a long pipe-like snout that is uses to feed. This creature differs from the seahorse in appearance, form of locomotion, and its inability to coil or graps things with its tail. A related species is the "Weedy Sea Dragon," which is multi-colored and grows weed-like fins but is smaller than the "Leafy Sea Dragon." The "Leafy Sea Dragon" is the official marine emblem of the state of South Australia. A biennial Leaf Sea Dragon Festival is held by the District council of Yankalilla, South Australia.

As with seahorses, the male leafy sea dragon cares for the eggs. The female produces up to 250 bright pink eggs, then deposits them on to the male's tail through a long tube. The eggs then attach themselves to a brood patch, which supplies them with oxygen. It takes nine weeks for the eggs to begin to hatch, depending on water conditions. The eggs turn a ripe purple or orange over this period, after which the male pumps its tail until the infants emerge, a process which takes place over 24-48 hours. The male aids in the babies hatching by shaking his taile, and rubbing it against seaweed and rocks. Once born, the infant sea dragon is completely independent, eating small zooplankton until large enough to hut mysids. Only approximately 5% of the eggs survive. Leafy sea dragons take approximate 28 months to reach sexual maturity.

Many things threaten the leafy sea dragon: collectors arrest them; medical people use them for research; predators destroy them; storms wash them ashore; pollution and industrial runoff destroy them.

The Leafy Sea Dragon is another example of God's wonderful creations. Our God is obviously wise, diverse, artistic, creative, imaginative. God has created each of us in his own way for his own purposes. Rejoice in God's work. Be thankful for ALL God does for YOU daily.

Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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