Our students write about a lot of creatures, and I always love it when students pick something a little bit off the beaten path. This past Saturday, a student chose a sea dragon as the main character of her underwater story, and as she filled out her character chart, she inevitably asked me for some sea dragon facts. Far be it for me to deter any writer who is committed to blending fact and fiction, so what did I do? I Googled, of course.
Et voila — I dove into the world of leafy and weedy sea dragons that live on the southern and western coasts of Australia. First of all, I think they’re amazing-looking creatures, and my 7-year-old little artist did not disappoint as she drew a detailed picture of her sea dragon in action. Secondly, I knew nothing about them before, so enjoyed learning some fun facts. My favourites:
- Sea dragons are close relatives of sea horses (I am imagining a sea horse-sea dragon family reunion, right now)
- Despite their small size and lack of teeth, they are carnivores — sucking in tiny crustaceans, shrimp and small fish through their little pipe snouts and eat almost constantly (This has the makings of an awesome cartoon character. When I searched to see if one exists, I discovered this BBC cartoon episode that has some gems of parental leafy dragon wisdom: “Just keep calm and blend in”)
- Male sea dragons care for the eggs that are laid under their tails by the female sea dragons and carry them for 6-8 weeks until they are ready to hatch. Go, papa sea dragons! I wonder if brooding sea dragons cluck and fuss like mama hens…