Our coasts have been getting a hammering. First the rivers feeding our estuaries almost dried up during the drought, then rain after the fires washed huge amounts of ash and charcoal into our rivers and out to our seashores. Recent storms at sea uprooted huge amounts of kelp, sea grass and sessile animals and tossed them ashore, scattered amongst more charcoal.
And not only sessile animals. During your walks, keep an eye out for all sorts of treasures washed up. Tossed up on Bengello Beach recently was a skeleton of a weedy seadragon. They live on kelp reefs and rely on camouflage to blend in with the kelp. In life they are beautiful blue, purple and red colours with weed-like growths off their bodies that blend in surprisingly well.
They are very weak swimmers, with only tiny fins on their head and tail, without the prehensile tail that sea horses have to hold on. They mostly drift and sway among the kelp, so are extremely vulnerable to storm surges washing them ashore. They are suffering loss of habitat by increasing numbers of long-spined sea urchins eating out their kelp, creating urchin barrens.
Even though seadragons are protected species because they are vulnerable to collectors for aquaria or Chinese health products, they are more assured of protection in Marine Park Sanctuary zones where no collection is allowed, so it is much easier to police. For the sake of our wonderful seadragons, and all marine life having a tough year, don't let the NSW Government legislate to remove any sanctuary zones in Batemans Marine Park.
This female seadragon washed up will never lay any more eggs for her male partner to incubate under his tail. Hopefully he will find another female to court.