Saturday, December 21, 2013

Plant or animal?

 This could well be described as a "botanical" sea creature.  The most delicate member of the family  Syngnathida, a  group of tiny, whimsical horses-of-the sea.

Leafy Seadragon is the plant-camo king.
(Now turn the photo a 1/4 turn to the right.  They float along with their "snout" to the floor of the ocean.)
Of course this is no horse, or plant for that matter.  It is the Leafy Seadragon, an impossibly ornate 3-5 inch creature that lives in the sea  of the Down Under, Australia.  It is modeling the best sea weed camouflage ever created.  This species was first bred in captivity at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.

Weedy Seadragon
Another beautiful sea creature found at the aquarium is the Weedy Seadragon.  One might imagine them to be the odd looking love-children of sea horses and plants.  A little less ornate than the "Leafy" shown in the first photo, they are members of the same family, but a separate genius.  Weedy Seadragons  have no clasping tail  to hold onto plants like their cousins the seahorse.  Therefore, they slowly drift along while feeding from the ocean floor.

The best known from this family of creatures is the Seahorse. There are over fifty separate species ranging from less than an inch long, up to 14 inches. Males bear live young, making them one of the most interesting fish in the sea.

JJ Soski at work, feeding sharks.
Special thanks goes to my favorite fish guide and daughter, JJ Soski.  I have been enjoying some time visiting with her in California. The personal tour of the Aquarium of the Pacific has been one of the best stops on this trip,  although the birding has been pretty amazing, too.

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