The ruby seadragon is one of the most mysterious and most elusive sea creatures scientists have identified, so it’s no wonder there’s a buzz over the first documented sighting of the creature. With strange appendages like long, straw-like snouts and long tails, they seem to be more myth than fact.
Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, were able to film the new seadragon species in the wild. The ruby seadragon has a resplendent scarlet hue, earning it its name. The team spotted it off Western Australia’s Recherche Archipelago in a joint expedition with the Western Australia Museum.
The species was only discovered in 2015, when Scripps marine biologists conducted a DNA test on several seadragon specimens in the museum. The specimens were as old as a hundred years old, and were labeled as common seadragons. However, the DNA analysis confirmed that these were new seadragons, Christian Science Monitor reports.
The ruby seadragon is only the third kind of seadragon to have been identified, along with the common seadragon and the leafy seadragon.
In 2016, the researchers sent a remote-controlled machine down 150 feet under the sea, and after considerable searching, finally caught a glimpse of the ruby seadragon swimming and hunting prey on the sea floor.
The find surprised the scientists, and they were able to document the seadragon for 30 minutes, giving new insights on its anatomy, behavior and environment. For example, the video shows that the ruby seadragon uses a curled tail to hold things – something that has not been evident in other seadragons.
The researchers were greatly pleased with the results, and marveled at the discovery of such lovely sea creatures outside what humans currently know. Josefin Stiller, a graduate student who took part in the search, said, “The discovery showed us that we can still find big, charismatic, bright red fish that no one has ever seen before.”