The birth of 70 sea dragons marks a unique and momentous occasion that is sure to be remembered by all who witness it. It is an incredibly rare event, so it is no wonder that locals and visitors alike have gathered to see these majestic creatures take their first breaths in their new home.
The news came in January 2023. It was years in the making. The Birch Aquarium in the United States announced that one of its sea dragons had become pregnant. It was “a one-of-a-kind conception.” A month later, the eggs hatched. And they were able to witness the birth of 70 sea dragons.
After being deep purple eggs, the babies are under strict observation. They are being checked by curators at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. They said they “are incredibly difficult to breed and raise in captivity.”
After an intense mating dance, the sea dragon became pregnant for the first time in the year. The species is listed as ‘near threatened’. It remains on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Few facilities have successfully hatched sea dragon hatchlings. Leslee Matsushige directs Birch Aquarium’s seahorse and sea dragon hatchery programs. She explained that the facility has been working on achieving this for decades.
“This is huge for us,” the specialist stated in an email. “This is a very challenging but exciting process. We have had some previous experience in rearing young sea dragons. We hope to be successful in rearing an even larger number of babies this year.”
They hope they will be able to reach adulthood without problems. The researchers revealed the following characteristics of the new babies. They began hatching on February 26. They continued to hatch until March 2. They are currently 2.5 centimeters long, and weigh less than 1 gram.
They are expected to grow up to 38 centimeters upon reaching adulthood. Although still very young, sea dragons are solitary animals. They have enough characteristics to be very independent and feed on their own. Thus, the role of the parent is over.
Jenn Nero Moffatt is director of animal care, science and conservation at the aquarium. She explains that sea dragon care is relatively new to science. The first approaches were achieved in the 1990s, details the specialist. Therefore, managing the birth of 70 sea dragons is a challenge. But it is also a great achievement at a genetic and conservation level for the institution.