Monday, March 5, 2012
Seahorses and Seadragons: Aphrodisiacs and Medicines
The dried remains of seahorses and seadragons are sometimes washed ashore, bleached by sun and salt, yet still exquisite in their beauty and charm. It is the hard outer case that resists decay and that's found in tangled flotsam.
Big-belly seahorses, weedy seadragons and spiny pipehorses are all closely related, and are fishes -- stunningly coloured and patterned.
Dried specimens are used in traditional medicines and aphrodisiacs -- in Asia. Live specimens are sought after for aquarium fish, and by collectors.
Weedy sea dragons have leaf-like appendages, a camouflage evolved to mimic small patches of kelp or the sea grass meadows in which they live. Exquisitely ornate and charming, I cannot help but pause and marvel at their unusual beauty.
The photos with a blue background show specimens we found here on Phillip Island.
The other photo shows specimens sourced from a seahorse 'farm' located in Tasmania. This 'farm' sells seahorses for the aquarium trade, and to Asia. Their aim is to prevent seahorses being taken from oceans and bays, where they are becoming endangered.