A new species of seadragon was discovered back in 2015: the ruby seadragon. However, scientists had to resort to drawings when describing the specimen, since there was no photographic evidence of its existence. Now, for the first time in almost two years, the ruby seadragon was caught on camera.
When they discovered the creature, the ocean experts used dried DNA samples in order to account for the novelty of the species. It was the first time in 150 years when a new species of seadragon was discovered.
The ruby seadragon (Phyllopteryx dewysea) was discovered swimming in the seas of Australia. This is the same place where the other two species of seadragon are to be found: the common (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) and the leafy (Phycodurus eques). However, a live ruby seadragon was spotted in Recherche Archipelago, close to the western islands. Scientists decided to thoroughly search the area, hoping they would be able to catch a glimpse of the seadragon and photograph or record it.
The researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography managed to record the animal with a remotely-operated low-light video camera. It was spotted more than 50 meters deep in the ocean. This is more than the allowed scuba diving limits and deeper than where the other seadragons use to dwell. This iconic event took place in April 2016, when two specimens were recorded on video for about 30 minutes.
The slow discovery of this species is attributed to the depths at which it resides. Some other differences between the ruby seadragon and its other more infamous relatives consist of the lack of the “leaves” on its body. The ruby seadragon does not have leaf-shaped appendages that often serve as camouflage for the other species of seadragon. It also has a tail that was not previously observed. The biologists presume it may use the tail to catch different objects.
The scientists think that this might not be the last of the discoveries. They presume that other specimens are to be spotted near Recherche Archipelago. They will keep the area under close observation and hope some other ruby seadragons will soon appear.
Since it is a new species, they are making efforts to enlist the ruby seadragon as protected, together with the other two species. We should act for the preserving of all marine species and not destroy their ecosystem.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons