Visit Southern Australia to see the amazing leafy sea dragons and weedy sea dragons off Kangaroo Island or off Victoria Harbor. Or go on an exhilarating Great White Shark Expedition.
Rare to see, hard to keep…
Leafy Sea Dragons are sometimes found dead on the beach, washed up in a clump of seaweed after a storm. Their flotation bladders are very fragile and cannot cope with any sudden changes in water pressure or depth, such as might occur during bad weather.
Underwater World at Hillarys, Perth (Western Australia) is one of only three aquaria in the world to have legally and successfully kept leafy Sea Dragons on display. Any specimens illegally caught by amateurs usually die quickly because of their captor’s inability to provide them with the correct live food daily.
Best Diving Destinations in Southern Australia
Victor Harbor is just 80kms from Adelaide with some of the best shore based/pier diving in Southern Australia. Three dives in particular – “Whale Bones”, the Bluff and Shark Alley. Victor Harbor has a great array of accommodation, 2 dive shops and within 30/40 minutes from the fabulous McLaren Vale, Currency and Langhornes Creek wine districts. Dive on old warships, accessible by rapid bay jetties and see the leafy sea-dragons. Victor Harbor came about originally as a whaling port – predominantly American whalers in the 1850’s. It is the legacy of these whalers that the spelling of the towns name (Habor) is the American style – where elsewhere in Australia would be spelt ‘Harbour’. It is a beautiful little spot far from the regular tourist traps – no big crowds – friendly small country town on the sea of about 10,500 people. Over the past few years the whales (Southern Wright) have returned during the winter months and can be regularly seen from the shoreline. At night time you can visit the nearby island and watch flocks of fairy penguins return from the sea to their burrow – they literally walk over your feet.
Leafy Sea Dragons
Resembling a piece of drifting seaweed, and floating motionless in the water, the Leafy seadragon is a spectacular creature. Named after the dragons of Chinese myth, these rare bony fish, found only in Southern and Western Australian waters intrigue visitors in only a few aquariums throughout the world.
Leafy seadragons are found in calm water that is approximately 50-54°F. Australians refer to them as the “Australian seahorse.” Seadragons are difficult to locate because of their remarkable camouflage and secluded breeding areas in the seaweed-filled waters. The Leafy Sea Dragon, with green, orange and gold hues along its body, is covered in leaf-like appendages. Only the fluttering of tiny fins or the moving of one of its independently swiveling eyes reveals its presence.
Like the seahorse, the male Sea Dragon carries as many as 150-200 eggs. After being deposited by the female, the eggs are carried in the honeycomb-shaped area (known as the brood patch), under the male’s tail for approximately eight weeks.
When to Visit Southern Australia
Remember that Australia’s winter is during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. Cyclone (Hurricane) season is January through March; April, May, and June see heavy trade winds.