For the first time in its 118-year history, the Waikīkī Aquarium has successfully bred a weedy seadragon, placing it among a small, select group of aquariums worldwide to breed this distinctive fish.
Found in Southern Australia and Tasmania, weedy seadragons are in the family Syngnathidae and are relatives of seahorses and pipefishes.
“This is an incredible achievement for our team since starting our seadragon husbandry program 14 years ago,” said Andrew Rossiter, Waikīkī Aquarium director. “Weedy seadragons are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, and we couldn’t be more excited.”
Like seahorses, male weedy seadragons brood the eggs; however, the eggs are incubated on the underside of the tail instead of in a pouch. Weedy seadragons perform an elaborate mating dance, spinning snout-to-snout and moving up and down in a water column to transfer the eggs from the female onto the male’s tail, where they are then fertilized.
Appropriately enough, the Waikīkī Aquarium’s weedy seadragons had a successful egg transfer just prior to Father’s Day on June 11, 2022. The male carried the eggs until the fully formed juvenile hatched on August 2. The baby seadragon has grown rapidly and is currently four inches in length and is being carefully monitored and cared for behind the scenes. Visitors to the Waikīkī Aquarium can see this newest addition via a live camera feed located in the aquarium galleries.
The Waikīkī Aquarium has been administered by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa since 1919.