Saturday, March 14, 2009

Seahorses and sea dragons

An exhibit of seahorses opened today at Underwater Adventures in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. The exhibit features more than 300 examples of 6 of the 32 species of seahorse, and has a conservation message: "Seahorses have really taken a beating out in the ocean," said Craig Atkins, general manager of Underwater Adventures. "They are threatened by pollution, habitat destruction, harvesting for medicines and the tourist trade. To protect wild populations, Underwater Adventures purchased its seahorses from aquafarms mostly in the United States." My sister introduced me to the closely related leafy sea dragon - her favorite animal - when we visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium a few years ago. The 2 species of sea dragon - leafy (pictured, bottom) and weedy (middle) - are also threatened, and the leafies have never reproduced in captivity. Before my sister pointed them out, I had no idea that such a perfectly camouflaged creature existed! Here is a leafy sea dragon in action.

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