For the first time, biologists capture footage of a new species of seadragon, the ruby seadragon, alive in the wild.
AT SEA, AUSTRALIA (SCRIPPS INSTITUTION OF OCEANOGRAPHY/UC SAN DIEGO) – The ruby seadragon, a new species of animal, has been captured alive on film for the first time by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego. The footage, which was captured off the coast of Western Australia in April 2016, was released as part of a study published on Friday (January 13).
“I discovered a third species of seadragon and a new species that we had no idea existed in the oceans,” said Scripps Oceanography marine biologist, Josefin Stiller.
Previously, the only samples of ruby seadragons were ones that had washed ashore. Scientists had hoped to find the fish in the wild to confirm that it lacked leaf-like appendages – a feature that would separate the ruby seadragon from the two other known species.
According to Scripps, the discovery “confirmed that ruby seadragons lack ornate leaf-like appendages, a feature that scientists had long considered to be distinguishing characteristics of all seadragons based upon the two known species – Common and Leafy seadragons.”
The footage also revealed that the ruby seadragon has a prehensile tail, much like seahorses, but unlike other seadragon species.