Kristy Forsgren and Dr. Chris Lowe, CSULB
The Aquarium of the Pacific supported this important study by providing Kristy Forsgren (a CSULB Master’s candidate) with the opportunity to conduct observations using their collection of rare weedy sea dragons.
Her work involved developing measurement techniques to quantify growth rates of sea dragons in captivity and the field, determining age or size at first reproduction by utilizing captive bred juveniles of known ages, and comparing growth rates of captive sea dragons with wild populations in southern Australia.
Recently, sea dragon populations have declined due to habitat destruction and pollution of coastal waters. Status of weedy sea dragon populations is unknown and the species has been listed as threatened on the IUCN List of Endangered Species.
Public displays of weedy sea dragons have become increasingly popular among public aquaria; however, the distinct lack of biological information on this species has made captive husbandry particularly challenging. Prior to this study, no scientific data has been published on weedy sea dragon life history or ecology, with exception of occasional anecdotal information that has been published in popular magazines and various sport diving publications.