Physical Characteristics

One of the most distinctive of all fishes, the leafy seadragon has numerous, complex leaflike dermal projections from the extremities of its head, trunk, and tail spines. Body is elongate, slender but somewhat sinuous, and encased in ringlike bony plates that extend as spines. The head is long, directed at almost a right angle in relation to the body, with a frontal bony projection and an extremely elongated snout. The mouth is upturned and terminal. Eyes round. Dorsal fin, which is pose-terior, has 34-38 rays; pectoral fins have 19-21 rays; anal fin has four rays. Tail slender and prehensile, with leaflike dorsal projections. Pelvic and caudal fins, lateral line, and scales are absent. Coloration is greenish brown or yellow, with vertical stripes along the trunk. Head has slight mask and varying dark blotches on leaflike projections. Specimens in deeper waters (about 98 ft, or 30 m) tend to be more reddish. Reaches some 13.8 in (35 cm) in length.

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