The above photographs show the amazing body structure of these organisms and their incredible ability to blend in with their surroundings. Some research that is currently being done looks at their patterns of movement and habitat use. In this study, 9 adult leafy sea dragons were tracked near West Island, Australia using ultrasonic telemetry. Leafy sea dragons lack a caudal fin and are weak swimmers. Their leafy protrusions are not used for propulsion; they are only for the function of camouflage. They use their small pectoral and dorsal fins to swim. These fins are transparent and help them move to create the illusion of floating seaweed.
This research study had the four main goals of describing patterns of sea dragon movement, comparing the proportion of sea dragon positions over different habitats within the available habitats, determining the degree of movement or habitat use varies from day to night, and testing tagging effects on movement. They found that all fish except one moved within a well defined home range of up to 5 ha. They determined this using the minimum convex polygon method. They also found that there were long periods, up to 68 hours, of no movement and there were some short bursts of movement. The fish were found to move about equally during the day and night. There were no significant differences in movement based on tagging. No fish were harmed in the removing of the transmitters, but the researchers did suggest that the lack of tagging effect may be due to the tags being attached to bony appendages, away from their bodies. The sea dragons spent more time over Posidonia seagrass and less time over Amphibolis seagrass than expected. This was concluded to be simply based on the area of habitat available. This preference could be due to habitat selection or a response to factor such as prey abundance and water movement. There is still a lot of reproductive stately research that can be done on these organisms. They are heavily protected just because there are not many of them. Check out this quick video that summarizes some of their main features and characteristics!
Connolly, R. M., Melville, A. J. and Preston, K. M. 2002. Patterns of movement and habitat use by leafy sea dragons tracked ultrasonically. Journal of Fish Biology. 61: 684-695.