A rare red seadragon isn’t a mythical creature. It is real, and was first discovered in 2015. The species (Phyllopteryx dewysea) has now been captured on film.
They are so rare, in fact, that scientists presumed that they would have to comb at least a quarter-acre of ocean on average before finding a single individual.
The cousins of the ruby seadragon are the common and leafy seadragons as well as sea horses.
The footage, filmed in Western Australia’s Recherche Archipelago, also marks the first time that the 10-inch-long fish has been seen alive. It is just the third known seadragon species, as well as the first discovered in 150 years.
Seadragons and sea horses are already enigmatic creatures. A female sea horse may have the babies, but the male sea horse carries eggs in his pouch until they are old enough to hatch. On a rare occasion, male sea horses can even give birth! They also represent some of the most intriguing life of the ocean.
“There is hidden biodiversity in the sea,” says Scripps Institution of Oceanography biologist Greg Rouse, who discovered the species with graduate student Josefin Stiller and Western Australian Museum researcher Nerida Wilson. “A big, charismatic fish like the ruby seadragon represents that.”
This species was found swimming almost 170 feet underwater, a very different habitat than its leafy seadragon cousins that swim along the southern Australia’s coastlines.
Scientists had to travel to the remote Recherche Archipelago to find the ruby seahorse. After four dives in rocky, windy seas with a remote-controlled mini-submarine, they finally filmed two ruby seadragons more than 167 feet underwater, as the fish swam through rocky gardens of sponges and nibbled at their prey, most likely tiny crustaceans called mysids. Footage of the species was published in Marine Biodiversity Records.