By Cailey Rizzo
January 19, 2017
Ruby seadragon filmed alive for the first time
Credit: Courtesy of Scripps Oceanography/UC San Diego

Marine biologists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Western Australian Museum captured the recently-discovered Ruby Seadragon for the first time on film.

The Ruby Seadragon was discovered back in 2015, but the only known specimens were preserved in museums or had been washed ashore.

In 2016, researchers decided to explore a remote area of western Australia to try to track down a live specimen and prove that the animal was still alive.

The seadragon lives at lower levels than where humans can safely scuba dive. So, in order to attempt discovery, scientists sent a small machine—outfitted with cameras—to record the animal’s behavior.

After searching for several days, the camera found the Ruby Seadragon over 160 feet below sea level. Researchers recorded the animal for a half-hour and learned more about the animal’s anatomy, behavior and natural habitat.

With the new video footage, researchers were able to confirm that the Ruby Seadragon behaves much like a seahorse of pipefish. They were also able to witness the animal’s feeding habits.

But the area in which the Ruby Seadragon lives is in danger. The team behind the study wants to give the animal protected status as soon as possible to protect it from overfishing.

“There are so many discoveries still awaiting us in southern Australia,” Nerida Wilson, a coauthor of the study published in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records, said in a statement. “Western Australia has such a diverse range of habitats, and each one is deserving of attention.”