There exists a creature so rare that we only had tissue samples to prove its existence, but after scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanology took to the oceans around the Southern parts of Australia in April 2016 to go looking for the creature in its natural habitat, they finally discovered a couple of them alive for the first time.
It’s known as the ruby seadragon, Phyllopteryx dewysea, and as noted in a study in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records, it’s one of only three known seadragons known to exist on Earth.
Image Credit: Scripps Oceanography/YouTube
It was officially found when the scientists put a remote-controlled underwater vehicle in the ocean, and equipped with a camera, they were able to explore the ocean from above the surface while the submerged vehicle did all the work at a depth of over 160 feet.
Because it went so long without being seen in the wild, we were unsure that the creature even still existed. Other species of seadragons can be found in the region with ease, but the ruby one in particular is quite a rare sight. This little project was successful in that is was able to find one in person, and that was a breakthrough discovery.
It can be seen in the footage from the underwater vehicle, included below:
Perhaps one of the reasons we’ve been eluded by the creature for so long as that we’ve been looking in all the wrong places. While other species of seadragons, like the leafy seadragon and the weedy seadragon, live inside the safety of kelp and seagrass at shallow depths of just 50 feet, the ruby seadragon was found living in spongy areas much deeper below the surface.
The red color of the creature is also very helpful to its survival, as red light is very inefficient at penetrating the surface of the ocean. As such, as such depths, they are fairly invisible to other creatures who rely on vision to navigate the ocean.
Another interesting find about the ruby seadragon is the fact that it’s tail is curled, and allows the creature to grip onto surrounding objects to avoid being swept away from underwater currents or drafts that can occur.
Most scientists can agree that Australia is a great place to search for different forms of unique life on Earth, and it would appear that the ocean surrounding the continent is no different. This discovery propels scientists’ interest in probing the area for more traces of unique wildlife.