There is no doubting that the ocean is a place of wonder. It is strange to think that we know more about space than we do about our own ocean, but it is amazing when we get to experience the strange, yet wonderful things that come from our beloved salty waters. Unfortunately, this story involved the washing up of some beautifully colored creatures on many of the beaches in Australia after a period of record-breaking rainfall.
Mysterious Creatures Were Found to be Sea Dragons
Our story starts with a woman named Betty Ratcliffe, who is a local and frequent beachcomber in New South Wales in Australia. She was walking along the beach one day and she spotted a strange creature that one does not usually expect to see washed up on the shoreline. It was a vibrant creature, boating some bright colors. She recognized it as being a sea dragon, but it was dead. Throughout the week that followed, Betty found seven of the same sea dragons washed up along the beach.
“The first one I found had recently died; it was so vibrant, with orange, yellow, and purple,” she said. “Over the next couple of days, I kept finding more and more.” Said Ratcliff to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Finding one of these beautifully mysterious creatures as you are enjoying your walk along the beach might seem like an amazing experience for those who had never seen one before (even if it were dead), but a total of 20 sea dragons were found washed up, which has caught everyone’s attention.
Dr. Booth Called this Abnormal
Why are they washing up in such great numbers, and is this a cause for alarm? For this, we turn to Dr. David Booth for some answers to this mystery. He is a professor at the University of Technology Sydney who specializes in marine ecology, so naturally, Booth was the ideal voice of reason.
Why are they washing up in such great numbers, and is this a cause for alarm? All findings were reported to Dr. Booth because it is not legal to personally handle the body of a sea dragon as a civilian, but Booth is aware that the 20 reports he has received might not be all of them. He fears there might even be about 50 dead sea dragons washed up on the shores because other people are not reporting them. Regardless, having the 20 reports still makes this concerning for Booth. “I’ve only ever seen one washed up. It was like, ‘My God, what’s happening?’ I reckon it’s about 10 times the normal rate of wash-ups.”
One might think that the harsh currents during the recent rainfall might have been the cause, but Dr. Booth thinks otherwise. According to him, sea dragons are not little weaklings. Rather, these creatures are “tough little devils!” Just like seahorses, they cling to the kelp forests at a depth of 10m below sea level. This helps them never allow themselves to drift more than 20 to 30 meters from that little patch of water for their entire lives. This shows us that it is not likely that the currents would make them wash up
Read: Researchers Capture Rare Footage of Fish That Sees Through its Own Head
Why is this happening?
Dr. Booth gave a detailed description of why he thinks the sea dragons are washing up on the shores and causing such concern amongst ocean lovers. He does think that the weather has something to do with it, but there are more variables than what meets the eye in this case. He said they are washing up as a ‘result of some combination of the shocking weather, pollutants being washed into the ocean and big surf’.