Discover sea dragons during their spring fling

Discover sea dragons during their spring fling



Look­ing for an adven­ture with a twist? Take a dip and dis­cov­er SA’s leafy sea drag­ons this spring.


South Australia’s leafy sea drag­ons – or leafies’ as they’re known local­ly – are ready for a fling. A spring fling that lasts for days and leaves dad with about 250 eggs to hatch.

SA’s marine parks offer a chance to see these green and yel­low-brown frag­ile crea­tures in the wild – tru­ly a nature-based expe­ri­ence found nowhere else in the world.

Leafy sea drag­ons can be found off the coast of the Fleurieu Penin­su­la at Rapid Bay, the Bluff in Vic­tor Har­bor, and mul­ti­ple spots on the Yorke Penin­su­la, as well as at Tum­by Bay jet­ty on the Eyre Penin­su­la and at a bunch of spots off the coast of Kan­ga­roo Island.

Leafies are renowned for their cam­ou­flage – and the untrained eye can eas­i­ly miss them – so if it’s your first time look­ing for them con­sid­er tak­ing a guid­ed div­ing tour. Then watch in awe as you wit­ness our state’s marine emblem in its nat­ur­al environment. 

Discover sea dragons during their spring fling

See the drag­on dance 

Octo­ber through to Jan­u­ary is leafy sea drag­on breed­ing sea­son. Remem­ber to be cour­te­ous around these unique crea­tures as they can be eas­i­ly stressed. If you’re respect­ful you might be reward­ed with see­ing their amaz­ing court­ing dance.

Dur­ing mat­ing sea­son the leafy sea drag­ons do the mat­ing swag­ger, sway­ing their colour­ful cam­ou­flage and weedy-like appendages with their mate. Then when the moment is right, mum pass­es over hun­dreds of tiny pink eggs for dad to fer­tilise and car­ry on his tail.

Dad then incu­bates the eggs for up to nine weeks. If you spot him with eggs while you’re div­ing, give him space – it’s a lot pres­sure rais­ing chil­dren! Plus, only about 20 grow to matu­ri­ty as they are so tiny and can eas­i­ly be sucked up by preda­tors – so let’s give these lit­tle guys a fight­ing chance.

Be respect­ful

If you spot leafies out in SA waters remem­ber to fol­low the rules as they are a pro­tect­ed species in our waters. So always watch from afar and don’t put them in the jar – or you’ll be up for a hefty fine.

Hope­ful­ly you’re feel­ing inspired to head out to your near­est marine park to uncov­er South Australia’s sea world. And what bet­ter time than now – dur­ing Nation­al Sea­Week. For details of what’s in store, vis­it our marine parks web­site.

Don’t want to get your feet wet? Why not watchGavinthe leafy sea drag­on on his car­toon adven­ture trav­el­ling along SA’s coast­line instead (video below).

Main image: A male leafy sea drag­on car­ry­ing eggs (image cour­tesy of Carl Char­ter Photography)

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in Octo­ber 2016.


This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living