leafy sea dragon, profile view [133k]

With all those "leafy" appendages hanging off, it's easy to imagine how this Leafy Sea Dragon would blend in so perfectly in a kelp bed.  Sometimes even experienced dive photographers may not notice the animal even at arm's length, until it moves.

Leafy sea dragons are ready to mate at an age of one year; at two years they are full size. In captivity, leafies may live to ten years or more.  According to an article by Peter DeMarco of the Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts, USA) aquariums pay up to 1,500 U.S. dollars each, which literally makes sea dragons worth more than their weight in gold! Additionally, their voracious appetite for about 100 mysid shrimp per day can get expensive. Each commercially purchased live mysid can cost in the range of 65-85 cents (U.S.) each, according to aquarists at the (Long Beach, California) Aquarium of the Pacific. This expense has prompted a newly initiated mysid-culturing program at the aquarium.
Phycodurus eques

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