Young weedy seadragons are heading to the New England Aquarium! 

But first, a quick rest stop in California

In our last blog about these seadragons, we talked about how and why we’re bringing young weedy seadragons to the Aquarium. These fascinating fish had been caught in the wild but raised in captivity and were now just big enough for their long journey across the world. Aquarists Jeremy Brodt and Allison Waltz-Hill traveled from gray and salty New England to sunny Los Angeles to greet the youngsters bound for Central Wharf during a layover at the California Science Center (CSC). 

weedy seadragons during layover
The six weedy seadragons arrived in triple bags inside insulated boxes.

Layover in Los Angeles

Good news! The seadragons arrived safe and sound early one morning after about 30 hours packed in their shipping boxes. It’s a long way from Australia to California! We are incredibly grateful to our friends at the CSC, who hosted seadragons bound for the New England Aquarium (and then hosted a second group of seadragons for the Georgia Aquarium the very next week)! The stopover allowed our aquarists to unpack the wee dragons and temporarily place them in larger tanks with carefully controlled temperature and filtration.

This layover is helpful for many reasons. First, it offered the seadragons a nice rest in the middle of a long journey. They got to stretch their fins and grab a quick snack, if they felt so inclined. Jeremy and Allison also ensured the seadragons acclimated to conditions more like they would find in Boston, which makes the process back in Boston much smoother. The other benefit is that it lets aquarists closely observe the seadragons to make sure that they’re in good condition before proceeding with the second leg of their journey. Without this stopover, the animals could easily spend more than 50 hours packed in a box!

weedy seadragons during layover
Soon after arrival, they were acclimated to holding tanks.
museum exterior
Temporary home, sweet home, for the seadragons
weedy seadragons during layover
Three weedy seadragons rest in holding tank at the California Science Center.
weedy seadragon next to ruler
Look how small they are!
Once the dragons are in the holding tank, Jeremy and Allison observed them for feeding behavior and signs of stress.

The acclimation process went smoothly after the dragons arrived at the California Science Center. Jeremy and Allison spent about four hours gathering water quality data and acclimating the animals to their holding tank. The amount of time spent acclimating depends on how long it takes to slowly and steadily match the pH, salinity, and temperature of the shipping water with that of the holding tank water. 

A restful layover

Once the aquarists were satisfied that the seadragons were looking healthy and comfortable, they offered some mysid shrimp. In the video below, you can see one of the animals slurp up one of the shrimp—a good sign that the seadragons were feeling relaxed.

Weedy Seadragons During Layover in Los Angeles

Next stop for these guys is Central Wharf in Boston! Stay tuned for updates about the last leg of their journey.

These baby seadragons will remain behind the scenes at the New England Aquarium for several months. But you can see mature weedy and leafy seadragons right now in the Temperate Gallery! Buy tickets online, flash them on your smart phone, and head right in to see these masters of camouflage.

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