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Animal World: Our Co-inhabitants

Leafy Seadragon-People: The Masters of Camouflage

2023-03-24
Language:English
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Besides the name leafy seadragon, my species is also called the Glauert’s seadragon, or more formally, Phycodurus eques. We are the only member of the genus Phycodurus, which is in the same Syngnathidae family as our pipefish- and seahorse-relatives. My kind has only been found along Australia’s southern and western coasts. We are true blue Aussies. Today, let me introduce you to my own family. We leafy seadragon-citizens of Australia’s seas may not fly or breathe fire, but we are truly a magnificent sight to behold.

Resembling the legendary Chinese Dragons with leaf-like appendages over our entire body, we appear otherworldly, like a character from a fairy tale. We are an amazing, beautiful, and delicate fish-folk who can grow to a length of 20 to 35 centimeters. Most adults have a greenish to yellowish-brown color, with thin stripes across their bodies and olive-tinted, leafy appendages. Even though we are considered part of the fish-people family, we are not good swimmers. Despite what you might think, our appendages are not used for swimming but for another purpose instead.

In our case, we have the ability to conceal ourselves by using our elaborate, leaf-like appendages for camouflage. We become almost invisible as we blend in with the kelp forests or other seaweed in which we live amongst. As an example, which is also about our superb camouflage skills, we can change our skin color to match our surroundings, but this ability depends on our diet, age, location, and stress level. To finish with yet another camouflage example, we just float along with the current, making us like a piece of floating seaweed. In fact, we are the only species in the world that camouflage even while we are moving. Now you know why we are considered the “king of camouflage!”

Even though we are so good at hiding, our population is declining. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists us as “Near Threatened.” But what concerns us the most is the loss of our natural habitat due to climate change and pollution caused by human activities, such as industrial and excessive fertilizer runoff. One simple change everyone can make is to help adopt a vegan way of life and eat as much organic food as possible.
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