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For first time, San Diego aquarium successfully breeds rare type of sea dragon

Weedy sea dragon
For the first time, UC San Diego’s Birch Aquarium has bred and hatched a pair of weedy sea dragons.
(Birch Aquarium)

The inch-long fish appear to be healthy and have had their first meal at Birch aquarium.

UC San Diego’s Birch Aquarium has successfully bred and hatched a pair of rare weedy sea dragons, making Birch one of the few aquariums in the world to carry out such breeding.

The inch-long fish appear to be healthy and have had their first meal, consuming bits of shrimp, the aquarium said.

“This is a momentous event for our team and our sea horse and sea dragon breeding program,” Jennifer Nero Moffatt, the aquarium’s director of animal care, said in a statement.

“Sea dragons are charismatic, sensitive and require detailed husbandry. We have spent over 25 years working with these animals and love that we have made the next steps to conserve this delicate species.”

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Birch established a successful breeding program for sea horses, leading the aquarium to branch out and try to breed weedy sea dragons, which are native to Australia.

“Weedy sea dragons perform elaborate mating displays, where partners spin together snout-to-snout and move up and down in the water column,” the aquarium said in a statement.

“This ‘dance’ is essential for the successful transfer of eggs from the female onto the male’s tail, where he then fertilizes and hosts the eggs. If mating is successful, the male will hold the eggs until they hatch about 6 weeks later.”

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For the time being, the babies will not be viewable by the public. The aquarium’s weedy sea dragons display is off display to enable Birch to perform a lengthy cleaning of the habitat.

Robbins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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