Learn about seadragon research and conservation

A variety of innovative research projects have worked over the years toward building a knowledge base for seadragon populations. Pioneering projects have utilized radio-tracking devices, fluorescent marking, and individual pattern identification to monitor seadragons across different locations and time periods. This research has paved the way for current seadragon projects, including SeadragonSearch.

SeadragonSearch is a community-based research initiative with a mission to collect data about wild seadragon populations across their range through underwater photography. Seadragons are beautiful, unique fish living exclusively along the southern coast of Australia. Our project has partnered with the non-profit software developer Wild Me, and uses machine learning tools to identify seadragons in photos and track individual seadragons over time. 

In 1996, a coalition of South Australian community organizations and researchers decided to investigate the mysteries surrounding some of their most iconic marine locals- seadragons. This project grew out of a mission to better understand seadragons’ lives, inviting “anyone who visits the beach or swims in the sea” to contribute to scientific research by sharing information about seadragon sightings through survey forms.

Seadragons are elegant members of the family Syngnathidae, which also includes seahorses and pipefishes. Wild seadragons are found only along the southern coast of Australia, and there are currently three known species: the common (or weedy) seadragon, the leafy seadragon, and the recently discovered ruby seadragon. The three species can be differentiated based on their appearances, their genetic relationships, and the ranges they occupy…

SeadragonSearch is engaged in collaboration with other community-driven research projects based in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. While we are based in Western Australia ourselves, it is SeadragonSearch’s goal to collect data on a national scale, across all of Australia’s southern coast. Core team members meet regularly to share photographic data, exchange seadragon research updates…

Learn more about participating in seadragon research

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Choosing photographs to submit to SeadragonSearch

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How to report an encounter to SeadragonSearch

SeadragonSearch blog and latest news

Changing Sea Levels and Genetic Diversity in Leafy Seadragon Populations
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Changing Sea Levels and Genetic Diversity in Leafy Seadragon Populations

A recent study led by Dr. Josefin Stiller investigated the influence of changing sea levels on the genetic diversity and...
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Weedy Seadragon Genomics Reveal Highly Distinct Populations
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Weedy Seadragon Genomics Reveal Highly Distinct Populations

Members of the SeadragonSearch team from New South Wales and Victoria have recently published a new weedy seadragon genetics study,...
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Connectivity and Resilience in Seadragon Populations
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Connectivity and Resilience in Seadragon Populations

Genetics research gives scientists valuable information about how groups of seadragons living in different areas are connected to one another, as well as how resilient each group might be to challenges in their environment.
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