Two years ago, a University of California San Diego graduate student named Josefin Stiller discovered an entirely new species of ocean life called the ruby sea dragon. But until recently, nobody had ever actually seen that sea creature alive in real life. And now the Scripps Institution of Oceanography has released footage of the unusual creature in the wild.
As the journal Marine Biodiversity Records writes, only two species of sea dragon were known to have existed prior to 2015: the leafy sea dragon and the common sea dragon. The ruby sea dragon lives off the coast of western Australia at depths beyond what recreational Scuba divers can reach (about 50 meters), so researchers had to use a tiny, remotely operated vehicle to find the ruby sea dragon and capture its movements on video.
So, what happened when the vehicle reached the sea dragons in April 2016? Here’s how the Marine Biodiversity Records described it.
The big surprises were that the ruby sea dragon didn’t have the “leaflike appendages” that other sea dragons have to help them hide, but they do have curled (or prehensile) tails (theoretically to keep themselves from getting swept off their habitats by ocean currents).
They almost seem like a fictional character. A character that could appear in a J.K. Rowling tale in which … oh, right, she’s seen the video as well.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 13, 2017