Leafy Sea Dragons Festival

Leafy Sea Dragons Festival

From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia. eric.shackle@gmail.com

When we first heard of a Leafy Sea Dragon Festival in Yankalilla, South Australia, we thought it must be a hoax.


Yankalilla sounds more like the name of an American town. But, just as a newspaper named The Boomerang is published in the American state of Wyoming, there is a small town named Yankalilla in South Australia. And leafy sea dragons abound in its coastal waters.

This year's festival will be held from April 15 to 24. For details, see

http://www.yankalilla.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=199

Leafy sea dragons are strange marine fish that look like seaweed. They have long projections from their bodies which act as camouflage as they swim gently through the warm water. They change colour to blend in with their surroundings.

They are so named because they look like miniature versions of mythical dragons. They are not fierce like their dreaded namesakes; in fact, they have no teeth.

Leafy sea dragons are slightly larger than therir better known cousins, sea horses. When fully grown, they reach a length of 20 to 24cm. (8 to 10 inches).


Male leafy sea dragons and male sea horses both nurture their partners' eggs until they hatch out.

These delicate and lovely fish are protected as an endangered species in Australia.
The Chattanooga Aquarium in Tennessee is the only body that has successfully bred them in captivity.

Divers come from all parts of the world to study and film these unusual creatures, which can be found all around Australia.

You can see great shots of leafy green dragons in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuI4ncViU4Y
and another at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPbFsjuYrVA&feature=related