By Kacey Deamer, Staff Writer | January 13, 2017 03:18pm ET
An elusive ruby seadragon that was previously known only from museum specimens has been spotted alive in its natural habitat for the first time.
The scarlet-colored fish (Phyllopteryx dewysea) was first discovered as a distinct species in 2015, when researchers uncovered a misidentified preserved specimen while studying the two known species of seadragons — the orange-tinted leafy seadragon and the yellow-and-purple common seadragon. Since the discovery, scientists have sought the 9.4-inch-long (24 centimeters) ruby seadragon in the wild. Now, a team of researchers have observed two ruby seadragons on video for nearly 30 minutes in the waters off Western Australia, in the Recherche Archipelago.
Using a small remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in waters more than 160 feet (50 meters) deep, the researchers waited several days before spotting the rare fish. These observations of the ruby seadragons in the wild have led to a greater understanding of the unique species' anatomy, habitat and behavior, the scientists said.